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Chelsea and Arsenal to enjoy Bridge battle

Premier League
BT Sport 1, 5.30pm Saturday


Chelsea's home supporters get a first glimpse of new manager Maurizio Sarri in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of a London derby and Blues fans should like what they see against Arsenal.

Sarri is far from the suave Italian stereotype when it comes to fashion in his oversized tracksuit but thankfully his football is more aesthetically pleasing and in time the former Napoli boss should be suited perfectly to the role of bringing more joy to the football played at Stamford Bridge.

He, however, has said himself there will be "some problems" in the first part of the season and a bet on both teams to score could be the solution to a tricky Premier League encounter in which Chelsea look the more likely winners.

Chelsea eventually strolled to a 3-0 win at Huddersfield last week, when the new-look Blues were adapting to their new  boss's style.

Sarri's shape will demand more of the midfield to push up in support of an exciting attacking line-up  where a trio from Eden Hazard, Willian, Pedro, Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata will be permed.

Goalscorer N'Golo Kante has been given licence to attack and rewarded Sarri with a goal, but it is the likely return to the starting 11 of Hazard that will serve as a serious warning to Arsenal.

Hazard was superb at the World Cup and showed in just a brief cameo against Huddersfield that the brilliant Belgian could revel in a Sarri side. For the first time during his Chelsea career Hazard now has a manager who wants to play on the front foot.

Whoever else starts should get joy against an Arsenal team who defended poorly in last week's 2-0 loss to Manchester City.

There was no Unai Emery evolution never mind revolution after the Spaniard replaced Arsene Wenger in the summer.

Arsenal still offered up plenty of opportunities and goalkeeper Petr Cech, once of Chelsea, looked particularly uncomfortable when asked to play out from the back.

The Gunners should feel no shame in losing to City - Chelsea did likewise in the Community Shield two weeks ago by the same score - although from a betting point of view this trip to west London is seen as an even more difficult assignment than hosting the champions.

Occasionally Arsenal showed signs of promise in the second half last week and Emery's pledge of attacking football may be easier to produce against an opposition manager in Sarri who has been in the job for two minutes rather than Pep Guardiola's two years.

Sarri's Napoli, especially in the early days, were vulnerable defensively and there will be spaces for Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to exploit as Chelsea adjust from a back three.

Recommendation
Both teams to score

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Match in Focus

19:15 TODAY ELEV

Villarreal v Sociedad

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Sociedad have scored two goals in their last seven away league games
Expert verdict
An untimely injury to Juanmi leaves Sociedad looking light in attack as they had for Villarreal. New Sociedad boss Asier Garitano has had to deal with a number of injuries and departures and they could struggle early on. They may well struggle on the road anyway having won just one of their last 15 road trips.