What: Chelsea FC at Arsenal (English Premier League)
When: Saturday, April 21, 2012
Where: Emirates Stadium, London, England
Time: 12:45 pm BST (UK)/7:45 am EDT/4:45am PDT
Television: ESPN2, Sky Sports 2 (UK)
Radio: SiriusXM Channel 93
LVH SuperBook Odds: Chelsea +½ -120, Arsenal +½ Even
Total: 2½ Over -115, Under 2½ -105
LVH SuperBook Odds (3-way Result): Chelsea +260, Arsenal Even, Draw +260
All eyes will be on Emirates Stadium in London on Saturday as Arsenal (20-4-10, 67 goals for, 43 against) hosts local rival Chelsea (16-9-8, 56 goals for, 38 goals against) in a crucial game for both sides in English Premier League action.
Both clubs have made remarkable turnarounds in the last few months, with the third-place Gunners (64) virtually locking down a UEFA Champions League spot for next season with their rejuvenated play under manager Arsene Wenger.
Chelsea sit in sixth place (57 points) in the EPL and is chasing fourth-place Tottenham Hotspur (59), who is at QPR later in the day (FSC, 12:30 pm EDT/9:30 am PT), and fifth-place Newcastle United (59) who host Stoke City (FSC, 10:00 am EDT/7:00 am PDT) following the Blues-Gunners battle.
The Blues, now a more than impressive 10-2-1 under interim manager Roberto Di Matteo, find themselves chasing fourth place and, more importantly, UEFA qualification for next season. But this tie sits sandwiched between Legs 1 and 2 of Chelsea’s UEFA CL semifinal games against the world’s top club, Barcelona.
Chelsea head to Camp Nou on Tuesday for Leg 2 (FSC, 3:00pm EDT/12 pm PDT) in the year’s most important game for the Blues, and one in which Barcelona are the heavy favorites.
The Gunners will be after their first double over Chelsea since 2003-04 after winning a crazy match at Stamford Bridge in this season's first meeting in October in which Robin van Persie scored in the 85th and 90th minutes to break a 3-3 tie and give Arsenal a 5-3 victory.
Wenger’s side is coming off an upset loss at the Emirates Stadium last Monday to Wigan Athletic in a game where the road team scored twice in the first eight minutes, then held on for a 2-1 win.
Chelsea head into the game with a seven-game win streak in fixtures played after midweek UEFA Champions League play, but have been less-than-dominating on the road (6-6-5, 23-18 goals) this campaign with goalkeeper Petr Cech registering no shutouts and allowing nine goals in his last six EPL matches away from Stamford Bridge.
Arsenal has been solid at home (12-2-3, 36-14) with Gunners goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny (can I buy a vowel?) playing some of the best soccer of his career.
With Player of the Year candidate and likely winner Van Persie (27 goals, 10 assists), Theo Walcott (eight goals, eight assists), Thomas Vermaelen (six goals) and Gervinho (four goals), the Gunners have enough (pardon the pun) gunners but would love to have the departed Thierry Henry and injured (ankle) Mikel Arteta (six goals) for this London derby.
The Blues have their own physical problems with defender David Luiz still out and nursing an injured hamstring suffered in Sunday’s 5-1 FA Cup semifinal win over Spurs at Wembley Stadium.
Also to watch, should be the play of Fernando Torres who will likely start for the hurting Drogba, who was on Friday ruled out of the match after injuring his knee Wednesday against Barça. Torres has played just one match (with Liverpool) at the Emirates and if Chelsea are to beat the Blaugrana on Tuesday, they’ll need Drogba to be healthy.
The last time the two sides met on this pitch in Premiership play last year, Arsenal won, 3-1.
This game will be a fun watch, and if you have to make a wager on it, I recommend betting on the side you want to pull for. Chelsea are on a roll and has great value on the three-way line (+260) and a 0-0, 1-1 or 2-2 draw (+260) is also a very good possibility.
PREDICTION: Arsenal 1 Chelsea 1
BETS: Draw +260, Chelsea +½ -120
> For an Odds preview of this Tuesday’s Chelsea-Barcelona UEFA Champions League Leg 2 semifinal match simply click on this link.
> Follow me on Twitter: @KevinStott11
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