London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea will continue their preparations for the new season when they lock horns for a pre-season friendly at the Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Sunday. The Gunners have scored 15 goals in their four warm-up matches so far this summer, while the Blues have only played twice this month, following up a victory over Club America with a defeat on penalties to Charlotte FC. Arsenal maintained their 100% record in pre-season when they claimed a 3-1 victory against MLS outfit Orlando City on Thursday.
Facundo Torres cancelled out Gabriel Martinelli’s opener on the half-hour mark, but the Gunners responded in the second half with strikes from Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson sealing victory for Mikel Arteta’s side in Florida.The Gunners began their pre-season with a 5-1 win over Ipswich Town and an entertaining 5-3 victory over Nuremburg in Germany earlier this month, before securing a 2-0 success against Everton in Maryland last weekend. Summer signing Gabriel Jesus did not feature against Ipswich but has since scored three goals in as many games for the club, including a brace on his non-competitive debut against Nuremburg.
A London derby against Chelsea is next on the agenda for Arsenal, who have won four of their last six meetings with the Blues across all competitions. The Gunners will finish their pre-season with an Emirates Cup clash against Sevilla next Saturday, before kicking off the Premier League season away against Crystal Palace on August 5. Chelsea, meanwhile, followed up their 2-1 win over Club America last weekend with a 5-3 defeat on penalties against MLS side Charlotte FC after playing out a 1-1 draw in 90 minutes.
USA international Christian Pulisic opened the scoring for the Blues on the half-hour mark and they were seemingly on course to secure a slender win, before substitute Daniel Rios scored a dramatic 92nd-minute equaliser for the hosts from the penalty spot after a foul conceded by Trevoh Chalobah.In the shootout, a tame effort from 12 yards by Conor Gallagher was comfortably saved by George Marks and proved costly, with Charlotte converting all five of their spot kicks to come out on top against their Premier League counterparts.
After facing Arsenal on Sunday, Thomas Tuchel’s side will travel to Italy to face Serie A outfit Udinese in their final warm-up fixture on July 29, before beginning the 2022-23 campaign with a Premier League visit to Frank Lampard’s Everton on August 6. After a slow start to the summer transfer window, Tuchel has been able to bolster his squad with the arrivals of Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly, and further additions are set to be made by the Blues before the end of the window, with centre-back Jules Kounde believed to be their top target at present.
Arsenal playmaker Fabio Vieira arrived at the club from Porto this summer with a foot injury and is yet to feature in pre-season, but the 22-year-old has recently returned to training and could make his debut on Sunday if he passes a fitness test ahead of kickoff. The Gunners, however, are set to be without Emile Smith Rowe, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Kieran Tierney who have not been involved in training due to injury, and it would be a surprise to see the trio risked against Chelsea.
The likes of Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, Thomas Partey, William Saliba, Ben White and Gabriel Magalhaes all began on the bench against Orlando, but they could return to the starting lineup this weekend .Even though Arsenal are on the verge of signing Oleksandr Zinchenko from Manchester City, Sunday’s game will likely come too soon for the versatile left-back, with Nuno Tavares expected to start again as a result. As for Chelsea, Timo Werner, Ross Barkley (both hamstring), Cesar Azpilicueta (knock) and Kepa Arrizabalaga (discomfort) were not involved in the defeat to Charlotte due to injury, and the quartet are unlikely to feature on Sunday.
Koulibaly was another who did not feature on Thursday, having only recently joined up with the first-team squad, and it remains to be seen whether he will be handed his debut against the Gunners. Gallagher, Michy Batshuayi, Emerson Palmieri and Ethan Ampadu, who all spent time on loan last season, will be looking to force their way into Tuchel’s thinking ahead of the new season. The likes of Sterling, Mason Mount and Kai Havertz all began on the substitutes’ bench last time out, but they could be brought into the first XI this weekend.
Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Ramsdale; Cedric, White, Gabriel, Tavares; Xhaka, Partey; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli; Jesus
Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Mendy; Chalobah, Silva, Koulibaly; James, Jorginho, Kovasic, Chilwell; Pulisic, Havertz, Sterling