London, Tuesday @PeopleSports11
Arsenal were a dealt a tough blow in their final game of the year as West Brom were awarded a somewhat fortunate penalty kick after referee Mike Dean adjudged Calum Chambers to have deliberately handballed in the box on New Years Eve.
The subsequent equaliser from the spot was enough for both teams to share the spoils on Sunday and as Arsene Wenger takes his squad into 2018, supporters will be wondering whether their team possesses enough to finish in the top four.
Admittedly, bad refereeing decisions aren’t going to do anything to help their cause but Arsenal’s performance against the Baggies was by no means dominant and they will need to increase their level on Wednesday night when they face Chelsea in north London.
The Gunners face Chelsea three times in January after drawing the Blues in the Carabao Cup semi-final and will be desperate to make sure they get the New Year off to a positive start. Nacho Monreal, Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey are still out injured while Sead Kolasinac has been ruled out for two weeks after he was on the receiving end of a challenge from West Brom midfielder Gareth Barry.
Mesut Ozil and Laurent Koscielny are both doubts for Wednesday’s game with Wenger deeming the Frenchman of having a 30 per cent chance of being involved at Emirates Stadium.
Antonio Conte’s side are undefeated in their last 13 matches but have fallen behind league leaders Manchester City whose imperious 18-match winning run has seen them top the table for much of the season.
Conte rested several players against Stoke at the weekend and will likely see the Eden Hazard and Andreas Christensen return to the line-up, following their astute record of four consecutive clean sheets in the league.
Chelsea will be without David Luiz (knee) while Baba Rahman (knee) is a long-term injury absentee. Alvaro Morata is the club’s top scorer with 12 goals to his name so far this season. -GOAL