Charlie Nicholas makes prediction for Arsenal’s clash with Chelsea and sends transfer message to Mikel Arteta

Frank Lampard's Chelsea play host to Arsenal at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea play host to Arsenal at Stamford Bridge (Picture: Getty)

Charlie Nicholas has backed Arsenal to hold Chelsea to a draw at Stamford Bridge, but believes Mikel Arteta still needs to strengthen his defensive options before the transfer deadline.

The Gunners are languishing down in tenth after successive draws with Crystal Palace and Sheffield United and sit ten points behind fourth-placed Chelsea in the Premier League table.

Frank Lampard’s men lost away to Newcastle at the weekend and will be desperate to bounce back with a victory over their bitter London rivals this evening.

Christian Pulisic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have been ruled out the clash through injury, while Reece James and Marcos Alonso are ready to feature after passing fitness tests.

Aubameyang is suspended for the London derby
Aubameyang is suspended for the London derby (Picture: Getty)

Arsenal will be without their top scorer, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is serving the second game of a three-match suspension and Nicholas fears the side will miss the striker’s goalscoring threat and energy up front.

The ex-Arsenal forward also has major concerns about Arteta’s defence, but has backed the north London club to come away from Stamford Bridge with a point.

Predicting a 2-2 draw, Nicholas told Sky Sports: ‘It is awkward watching Arsenal and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is still out too. You miss his goals but his pace and movement too, which makes the opposition have to defend ten yards deeper.

‘It also creates space for Mesut Ozil. I think Gabriel Martinelli is going to be a star and a real goal-getter and eventually he will be a number nine.

‘It is needs must at the moment. No centre-backs have been brought in yet, while Bukayo Saka is still at left-back.

‘We are still waiting on transfers. Mikel Arteta has to get in the market and help the defence. They are not letting as many in but Arsenal do not have a clinical side yet.

Charlie Nicholas has predicted a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge
Charlie Nicholas has predicted a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge (Picture: Getty)

‘Chelsea have not won much at home recently, except the Burnley game, but Arsenal will need to play defensively and see where it takes them.

‘I need so much more from Nicolas Pepe and a bit more from Alexandre Lacazette.

‘Get the two protectors right in front of the back four, and I would still sell Granit Xhaka if the money was right. We could get by without him.

‘I think Arsenal will be dangerous away from home, and Nicolas Pepe can deliver in these games, which suit him. He turned up the last time I said this against Manchester United.’

Arteta suffered a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea in his first home match as Arsenal manager last month, but the Spaniard is upbeat about his side’s chances tonight.

‘A lot of things have changed that are positive,’ Arteta said at his pre-match press conference.

‘The way we have changed the energy with our fans has been massive. In terms of results we have been unlucky.

Asked what he learned from Arsenal’s defeat to Chelsea at the Emirates, Arteta replied: ‘I loved the first 30-35 minutes and how much we wanted to put them under pressure.

‘They changed the system and started to defend deep and physically it was harder to maintain that energy.

‘Against Chelsea that is vital. We will go with the same intention.’

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