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Failure to sustain a Premier League title charge, clinch the EFL Cup crown or successfully defend their Champions League title are all blots on Thomas Tuchel‘s 2021-22 notebook, but the Blues are now only 90 minutes away from ending the season with a coveted trophy to their name.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mason Mount‘s composed finishes in the second half saw Chelsea break the Palace resistance in their FA Cup semi-final on Sunday afternoon, with the Blues facing Liverpool for the second time in a domestic cup final this term as they seek vengeance for their EFL Cup penalty heartache.
Tuchel’s side have successfully proved that their minor blip from the start of the month was indeed just a minor blip, with a 6-0 thumping of Southampton also seeing them cement their third-placed position in the Premier League table – five points clear of Tottenham Hotspur with two games in hand.
Back-to-back home defeats to Brentford and Real Madrid could yet lead to a sense of apprehension creeping in among the Stamford Bridge fanbase ahead of Wednesday’s game, especially seeing as they have only won 50% of their home league games this term to collect 26 points on their own turf – the eighth-best record in the league.
It has been 29 years since Chelsea last suffered a trio of consecutive defeats on their own turf in all competitions, although the third defeat in that sequence did come against Arsenal, who will undoubtedly need history to be on their side this week amid their alarming downturn in fortunes
Chelsea lost Mateo Kovacic to an ankle injury after just 26 minutes of the FA Cup semi-final win over Palace, and while the extent of the damage is currently unclear, Tuchel admitted that the injury looked like a serious one after the full-time whistle.
Kovacic is being kept company in the treatment room by long-term absentees Ben Chilwell and Callum Hudson-Odoi, while Ross Barkley missed the Palace win after a recent bout of sickness, but that could very well have been a tactical choice from Tuchel.
N’Golo Kante will expect to slot straight back into the engine room in Kovacic’s absence, and it would not be a surprise to see Tuchel consider handing Romelu Lukaku a start given how much he terrorized the Arsenal backline at the Emirates earlier this season.
Meanwhile, Arsenal right-back Takehiro Tomiyasu is due to return to team training before Wednesday’s game and could be in with a shot at making his comeback here, but Thomas Partey and Kieran Tierney are both still out.
Captain Alexandre Lacazette‘s participation is also up in the air after he tested positive for COVID-19 before the Southampton clash, so Eddie Nketiah could once again be tasked with leading the line at Stamford Bridge.
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Arteta does possess the option to move Gabriel Martinelli into a central role and bring Emile Smith Rowe back in on the left-hand side – a formula which Arsenal fans have been crying out for – and the England international does have fond memories of the ground after scoring the winner in Arsenal’s 1-0 triumph there last term.
Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Mendy; James, Silva, Rudiger; Azpilicueta, Kante, Jorginho, Alonso; Mount, Werner; Lukaku
Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Ramsdale; Cedric, White, Gabriel, Tavares; Xhaka, Lokonga; Saka, Odegaard, Smith Rowe; Martinelli