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Arsenal vs Chelsea – Pre-Season Match Preview

Here’s an odd statistic: between May 27th - September 17th 2017, Arsenal will have played their London rivals four times in four different competitions!The first of these four games, was of course the highlight of Arsenal’s season, the FA Cup final which Arsene Wenger’s men came out on top in, with an impressive 2-1 win against Antonio Conte’s side to clinch the trophy.The second of these games is the upcoming July 22nd fixture being played in Beijing as part of both sides Far-East tour. While this showpiece event was no doubt planned months ago, it was to come to pass that the sides would be scheduled to meet again just two weeks later, competing in the Community Shield.The August 6th fixture to herald the start of the new season by pitting the winners of the FA Cup and the Premier League against each other, is followed just over a month later by an early-season league fixture, completing the unlikely run of four fixtures in four different competitions… well, this one isn’t really a competition.Despite being so acquainted with each other as of late, the London clubs come up against each other in unfamiliar territory on Saturday, when they meet at the famous Bird’s nest Stadium in Beijing.The ground that played host to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games will be filled with a capacity crowd of 80,000 people for the friendly, with Arsenal’s fourth pre-season game – coming out victors in the first three - coinciding with Chelsea’s first.This trial run for the Community Shield will be used to bed in some new players and give youth a chance, and also allow supporters from the Far-East to see their clubs in action (so it’s not totally meaningless).There have been some changes to both sides since the FA Cup final at the end of May. Over the past 3 games – Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers in Australia and Bayern Munich in Shanghai – Gunners fans have gotten to see record signing forward Alexandre Lacazette; who scored on his debut against Sydney FC and has looked solid during his playing time in the next two; and full-back Sead Kolasinic who arrived from Schalke earlier in the Summer, and may not play against Chelsea as he had to leave the pitch ill in Shanghai.Not available for Arsenal in this game, as was the case with the previous matches, are: Alexis Sanchez, Shkodran Mustafi, Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding, Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Wojciech Szczesny and Lucas Perez. Sanchez and Mustafi have not travelled due to their involvement in the Confederations Cup this Summer, where both reached the finals (with Chile and Germany respectively; the germans winning the tournament). Bellerin and Holding are also exempt due to tournament participation – in their case, the U21 World Cup.The other players have not travelled due to injury, although incidentally all of them have been linked with departures from Arsenal before the transfer window closes.On the Chelsea side of things, despite starting the transfer window slow, they’ve gotten their act together and made some signings.They’ve brought in midfielder defender Antonio Rudiger from Roma, Tiemoue Bakayoko from Monaco, and Manchester City’s Willy Caballero in recent weeks, and the former two will not be making their debuts in Chelsea shirts in this game, as they have remained at home in London to focus on their fitness.Joing Bakayoko and Rudiger in London is the reinvigorated Eden Hazard, who is also working on his fitness. There is no place in the squad for Diego Costa, Kurt Zouma and Nemanja Matic, who’s future at Stamford bridge is uncertain at the time.Chelsea have also brought in Alvaro Morata, but he is not expected to join the team till their next pre-season games, which will take place in Singapore against Bayern Munich and Inter Milan.So, as the sides meet each other in Beijing, what is there to look out for? It is likely that there won’t be much, I’m afraid.With the two teams meeting again in such a short space of time, don’t expect either Wenger or Conte to show their hands. Instead, young blood will be given a run, along with the potential testing of new formations and positions.Arsenal have been strong in their previous Pre-Season games, with Petr Cech, Mohamed Elneny and Alex Iwobi all performing particularly well.Youth players Cohen Bramall, Krystian Bielik, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Reiss Nelson have stood-out in the previous games, and they will be hoping to continue their good form so that they can keep themselves in contention for the coming season.Conte has also brought plenty of youngsters along, and you can fully expect them to be given a run out in the tie. Of particular note is centre back Jake Clarke-Salter, who formerly captained Chelsea’s very successful youth team, and after spending last season on-loan at Bristol Rovers, will want to impress his manager enough to give him a chance with his parent club this year.Clarke-Salter was part of the successful England U20 World Cup winning team from this Summer, and he is joined in their pre-season squad by teammates full-back Fikayo Tomori, goalkeeper Marcin Bulka and central midfielder Kyle Scott. They may not be familiar names now, but they have very well could have bright futures ahead of them and pre-season games like this one could offer them a chance to showcase what they could offer the Chelsea first-team.Once Arsenal get through this game, they still have two more pre-season friendlies, in the Emirates Cup. These games will take place at Arsenal’s home ground on the 29th and 30th of July, and will see Arsenal play Benfica and Sevilla, in preparation for the 2017/18 season.Kick-off in Beijing for the last game of Arsenal’s Far-East tour against Chelsea is at 7.45 pm local time and 12.45 pm British time.