Chelsea v Arsenal preview: Alvaro Morata has a point to prove, Eden Hazard could terrorise Hector Bellerin

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Chelsea welcome Arsenal to Stamford Bridge for the first London derby of the Premier League season.

Maurizio Sarri’s side are fresh from their away victory over Huddersfield but Arsenal promise to be a greater test.

Meanwhile, the Gunners will be hoping to put their opening fixture defeat against Manchester City behind them.

They were outplayed in a 2-0 defeat at home to the champions and will want a better result to come away with from west London.

The fact both teams have taken new managers and are getting accustomed to their own ideas and style of play makes this derby all the more enticing.

TALKING POINT
Morata running out of time

Chelsea’s failure to lure Gonzalo Higuain to Stamford Bridge handed Alvaro Morata a new lease of life. The Spaniard is not too dissimilar to the veteran striker in terms of ability and has all the qualities Maurizio Sarri looks for in a centre forward.

Sadly, much of Morata’s performance is reliant on his confidence and state of mind. Antonio Conte quickly lost faith in him last season – after spending an initial £58 million to sign him in the first place – and the 25-year-old seemingly never recovered.

He now has the opportunity to prove himself as the new man in charge but has so far flattered to deceive – he often does. In 2018, Morata has scored just once in 15 Premier League appearances. For now though, Sarri is fully behind the striker.

“I am not worried about Morata. Morata is a very good player,” said Sarri, speaking ahead of Arsenal’s visit.

“I think in this moment he needs only to gain confidence. But he’s a great player.

“He needs to gain confidence. But he’s improving. I’m not really worried about him.

“He needs to score. As do all strikers in the world, I think.”

It’s no surprise Sarri is prepared to offer Morata every chance to succeed, he is not oblivious to the obvious talent the former Real Madrid man possesses. Morata also has the benefit of learning from Chelsea’s legendary forward, Gianfranco Zola, who Sarri has brought on as assistant coach.

However, he won’t be immune to the axe. At this level, Morata can’t be afforded very long to get it right. Sarri may turn to one of the wide forwards in Eden Hazard, Willian or Pedro to play up front as he did with Dries Mertens at Napoli. Of course, there’s Olivier Giroud in reserve as well.

Alvaro Morata.

Alvaro Morata.

KEY BATTLE

Eden Hazard v Hector Bellerin

Hector Bellerin did not enjoy his outing against City last weekend and is likely to face similar problems at Stamford Bridge. Raheem Sterling often got the better of the Spanish full-back and after Hazard dazzled in his cameo against Huddersfield, the smart money is on the Belgian in this encounter.

Despite the distractions that come with interest from Real Madrid, Hazard looks set to carry his stunning World Cup form into the new season. Bellerin certainly has the pace to match the Chelsea attacker but Hazard’s threat lies more in his close control, guile and vision.

He won a penalty off the Arsenal defender last season and Bellerin has always looked more comfortable charging at the opposition’s goal than defending his own.

WHAT THE MANAGERS SAY

Maurizio Sarri – “I think Emery is a very good coach. He won three times the Europa League, he won in France with PSG. I think Arsenal this season will be competitive. I think they will be able to fight for a place in Champions League.”

Unai Emery – “We are going to play away but we need to keep our personality, keep our mentality. I think on Sunday against Manchester City, the team kept their ideas, kept their spirit in the game for the full 90 minutes, even when we were losing, and didn’t let their heads go down.”

WHAT WE THINK

Chelsea 3-1 Arsenal

The hosts seem the more settled of the two teams and Hazard’s inclusion will be a big boost. Chelsea, at the moment, are more suited to Sarri than Arsenal are to Emery. The Gunners have more mistakes in their locker.

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Liverpool happy to let players leave but only if it's right for the club

Rory Dollard 17/08/2018
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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is open to exits

Jurgen Klopp would be open to trimming his Liverpool squad before the transfer deadlines close around Europe but insists any deal must be right for the club.

The Reds have done plenty of business this summer, adding Naby Keita, Fabinho, Alisson Becker and Xherdan Shaqiri and allowing a handful of less established players to move on.

Further outgoings seem likely, led by Estonia international Ragnar Klavan’s expected £2million switch to Cagliari.

Simon Mignolet, Lazar Markovic, Sheyi Ojo, Marko Grujic and Dominic Solanke might all attract interest, but although Klopp expects teams from around the continent to try and take advantage of the Premier League’s truncated window he will not be forced into any poor deals.

“I said before, in general, that’s it’s possible players could leave the club and that will happen if it’s good for everyone,” he said ahead of Monday’s trip to Crystal Palace.

“The transfer window closed in England and the whole of the world – the whole of Europe at least – was waiting for that moment and they start now trying dumping (lower) prices to get good football players.

“That will not happen. We are not in a financial need.

“No player would leave the club if I would not allow it. First the situation is, ‘How is the offer, how is the need for us?’.

“I really think we could give a few players the opportunity but we have to see how many. I have no number in my mind at the moment.”

Summer signing: Naby Keita.

Summer signing: Naby Keita.

Klopp was asked directly about Solanke’s loan link with Rangers, now managed by Steven Gerrard, but shed little light on the subject.

“I’m hearing about it for the first time now, so it doesn’t seem like it’s close,” he said.

The Reds are rated by many as the team most likely to challenge defending champions Manchester City this term, and did their cause no harm at all by kicking off their campaign with a thumping 4-0 win against West Ham.

Klopp was happy with everything he saw at Anfield but is not getting carried away after 90 minutes of a 38-game season.

“People are still not used to enough good football from us, because if we are good we are ‘unbelievably good’. But we didn’t get anything for it so far,” he said.

“We need to stay positive, very good, but stay angry as well. Don’t celebrate the whole week until Monday and then fall hard.”

Early impressions suggest Klopp has upgraded a squad who were good enough to reach last season’s Champions League final but as a coach his focus is on continual progression.

“I said in a meeting to the boys if we are good everyone – not the supporters, but the journalists – are overly excited. Even LFC TV want to do constantly wonderful stories, but we have to work hard,” he said.

“It’s nice because it could be completely different and we do feel in a good moment. It’s getting better and better but we are still in a process. We have to develop.

“We are not the best team in the world so there’s a lot of space for us to improve in all different departments.

“Our supporters like the way we are doing it and that is very important.”

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Morgan Schneiderlin column: Marco Silva is very ‘hands on’ and attentive to details

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The first home game of a new Premier League season is always a special occasion and I am particularly looking forward to our match this weekend because we face one of my former clubs, Southampton, at Goodison Park.

Over the summer there has been lots of changes at Everton, including the appointment of Marco Silva as our new manager and the arrival of seven new signings during a busy transfer window so this feels like a fresh start for everyone at the football club.

From day one in pre-season, the players could see exactly what the new manager wants and expects from us and he has spent the last six weeks implanting those ideas within the squad at our USM Finch Farm training base.

One manager I liked working with very much was Mauricio Pochettino during our time together at Southampton and, in many respects, Marco reminds me of him. Possession, pressing, working hard – I like this idea of football and it’s what I relate to most.

Our manager is very ‘hands on’ and attentive to details. He tries to make progress collectively and individually.

He has shown me videos of my games and highlighted areas where I can improve, and I know he has done the same with other members of the squad too.

Morgan Schneiderlin has been impressed by new Everton signing Richarlison.

Morgan Schneiderlin has been impressed by new Everton signing Richarlison.

That’s great for football players as you need to see yourself after the game and understand what the manager wants from you. Personally, I welcome and need to have that regular communication with a manager, then it’s easier to implement his ideas on the pitch.

Of course, it takes time for any manager to put his stamp on a team but I think we showed signs of how he wants us to play in our opening game against Wolverhampton Wanderers last weekend.

It was always going to be a difficult task against a Wolves team that has momentum following promotion from the Championship and that challenge became even harder when we had a man sent off in the 40th minute.

However, we showed great desire and lots of fighting spirit to take a point with 10 men and, with a bit more luck in front of goal, we might have won it so there were plenty of positives on the day.

Perhaps the biggest plus was the performance of Richarlison, one of the new signings to join the club this summer, who scored two goals on his debut.

I remember watching ‘Richy’ last season and in the first five or six months, he really caught my eye because he had some amazing games for Watford.

All of his game is top drawer – his technique, the way he keeps and moves the ball and the hard work he puts in for the team.

Off the pitch, he is quiet around the place because he doesn’t speak much English but when he pulls a shirt on he is a warrior and a great player to have on your side.

If he can do what he did last weekend on a regular basis then I really believe he can score 15-plus goals for us this season and become one of the stand-out players in the Premier League.

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