The 2023/24 Premier League season has brought an air of excitement and anticipation, with the battle for the top four places shaping up to be fiercely competitive.
Before a ball was kicked this season, Chelsea and Arsenal were among the clubs expected to be in the mix for a Champions League spot, with the latter further tipped to challenge for the Premier League title.
While both London clubs have shown their intentions in the transfer market, their start to the campaign has unfolded in contrasting fashion, with both clubs currently on either side of the Premier League table.
Arsenal have kicked off their campaign building on the momentum of last season’s second-place finish, while Chelsea have struggled to find their feet despite wholesale changes in the club during the summer.
Chelsea’s form has shone a spotlight on their ticket prices – currently some of the most expensive tickets in the Premier League – although you can still buy Chelsea tickets at SeatsNet.com for competitive prices from other fans.
Mikel Arteta’s side have enjoyed a promising start to the season, taking 13 points from their opening five games and are one of four unbeaten teams in the Premier League.
Despite picking up two wins and a draw from their first three games, the Gunners only began looking like true contenders for the top spots following their remarkable 3-1 victory over Manchester United.
The Red Devils have endured a bizarre start to the season but they remain formidable opponents, and Arsenal’s ability to take maximum points off their Manchester counterparts demonstrated their potential to achieve their lofty ambitions.
After the triumph over Man United, Arsenal continued to establish new milestones by claiming their first victory over Everton at Goodison Park since the era of the legendary manager Arsene Wenger.
Leandro Trossard, who emerged from the bench to net the match-winning goal, continued his impressive form on the continental stage after bagging a goal and an assist as Arsenal launched their Champions League campaign with a win.
After a six-year hiatus, the Gunners marked their return to Europe’s premier club tournament with a remarkable 4-0 victory over Eredivisie giants PSV Eindhoven, maintaining their unbeaten start to the season.
Despite their results, Arsenal’s initial performances were lacklustre. But they have picked up momentum, and Arteta would be delighted with the way his team is performing at the moment.
Their early form has cemented their status as contenders for the top four places and perhaps the Premier League title, but the same cannot be said about their local rivals, Chelsea.
Unlike their London counterparts, Chelsea’s start to the season has been nothing short of a disaster, considering their massively underwhelming results.
The West Londoners splurged heavily over the last three transfer windows, assembling some of the finest footballing talents across the globe, but they are yet to reap the benefits of their investment.
Five matches into the new season, Mauricio Pochettino’s new look youth-oriented side have collected just five points, which leaves them languishing in 14th place in the Premier League table.
They have drawn and lost two games apiece, while their solitary victory this season came against newly promoted Luton Town, who are yet to pick up any points in their debut Premier League campaign.
Chelsea’s current predicament lies in the fact that while their results may not be confidence-boosting, their performances on the pitch have generally been impressive, with only the end product eluding them within their tactically sound system.
They started sluggishly against Liverpool on the opening weekend but, after levelling matters, they became the better side and could have snatched a winner late on.
In the subsequent 3-1 defeat to West Ham United, Chelsea failed to deal with the threat David Moyes’ side posed in set-pieces and were unable to capitalise on their one-man advantage in the second half.
World Cup winner Enzo Fernandez also had the chance to give Chelsea the lead from the penalty spot, and his miss marked a significant turning point in a game where the Blues barely gave away chances.
Chelsea were overwhelmingly the better side in the 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest and should have ripped the Tricky Trees apart. But again, profligacy was the order of the day.
And against Bournemouth, Chelsea’s starting XI featured six players with less than one full season of European experience, while six out of the nine players on the bench had never played a minute of Premier League football.
Chelsea’s beginning to the season hasn’t been flawless, and the issue at hand is quite evident.
While they can boast some of Europe’s most promising talents, a significant portion of their squad lacks the maturity required to consistently deliver top-tier performances and capitalize on their opportunities.
Nicolas Jackson showed a lot of promise during the pre-season tour, and his all-round performances thus far have left the Chelsea fans with plenty to be optimistic about.
However, he is lacking the all-important end product, with the Senegalese striker scoring just one goal while spurning six big chances, perhaps because he is still finding his feet in English football.
His one-goal return stems from an expected goals (xG) tally of 3.3, which on the surface is extremely poor but also suggests an improvement is likely, if not guaranteed.
Chelsea have been decent defensively, restricting opponents to very few chances, which is emphasized by the fact that their open-play xG tally conceded is the second-lowest in the Premier League.
However, at the top end of the pitch is where they have struggled the most, with only Everton (3%) and Town (4.7%) – two of the three sides in the bottom three – boasting a worse conversion rate in the Premier League than Pochettino’s side (6.2%).
The West Londoners have also been dominant in their fixtures, controlling proceedings and averaging the highest share of possession in the league with 69.6%.
Arsenal are comfortably ahead of Chelsea
While the results suggest Chelsea are in crisis, the underlying numbers suggest the Blues are heading in the right direction, but it is fair to say Arsenal are ahead in the current pecking order.
The Gunners also boast a fairly young team, but they have amassed the required experience necessary to compete at the highest level both domestically and in Europe.
Chelsea will undoubtedly be aiming to finish in the European places, but whether they can translate these ambitions into reality remains uncertain.
The task at hand for Pochettino remains substantial, as he still has work to do in order to get his team firing on all cylinders.
On the contrary, Arsenal will have high expectations of challenging Man City for the Premier League title, especially after coming close to dethroning the reigning champions last season.
Their unbeaten streak is something they aim to extend as they prepare to welcome their significantly improved North London rivals, Tottenham Hotspur, to the Emirates Stadium this weekend.
Meanwhile, Chelsea will be in pursuit of just their second victory of the season as they host last season’s surprise package, Aston Villa, in Sunday’s Premier League showdown at Stamford Bridge.