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Five days short of two months to the date these two teams met in the FA Cup final to close out the 2016-17 season, they are set to meet again, this time in the iconic Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing. The stakes are just a tad bit lower this time around.
This will be Chelsea’s first official pre-season friendly of the summer, following the unofficial and behind-closed-doors affair of last week’s 8-2 smackdown of Fulham. Results of course don’t exactly matter in pre-season, though winning 8-2 is certainly preferable to losing 8-2.
Arsenal have played three friendlies already, beating Sydney FC 2-0 and Western Sidney Wanderers 3-1 during their tour of Australia, and Bayern Munich in a penalty kick shootout after a 1-1 draw in the International Champions Cup in Shanghai. Arsenal’s pre-season is chock full of games (6 in total, 3-4 more than Chelsea), before the two teams meet again in the Community Shield in two weeks on August 6.
That means that season proper is only three weeks away, so it’s time to truly get down to work work work work work work work…
Date / Time: Saturday, July 22, 12:40 BST; 7:40am EDT; 5:10pm IST
Venue: Bird’s Nest, Beijing, China
Forecast: Hot hot hot
On TV: ITV 1 (UK); elsewhere
Streaming online: Chelsea TV (int’l) — should be free to view, including in USA (just need to register for a free account on the official Chelsea website), and hopefully without too much crashing this time around.
Arsenal team news: Since we last met, Arsenal have signed a new center forward in Alexandre Lacazette and a new and fairly useful defender in Sead Kolašinac while managing to hang on (so far) to the likes of Alexis Sánchez, Mesut Özil, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oh an Arsène Wenger got a new contract, confirming his status as emperor of all things Arsenal.
Chelsea team news: Since Chelsea last met Arsenal, the Blues have broken up with Diego Costa and signed a new center forward in Álvaro Morata (though he won’t play due to travel), broken up with Nemanja Matić and signed a new central midfielder in Tiemoué Bakayoko (though he won’t play due to injury), broken up with John Terry and signed a new central defender in Antonio Rüdiger (though he won’t play due to prior commitments), and broken up with Asmir Begović and signed a new backup goalkeeper in Willy Caballero (he might actually play). But most crucially, Chelsea did not break up with Antonio Conte, much to the tabloids’ chagrin, and instead signed him to a new contract on club-record wages.
With Eden Hazard also missing from the tour due to a broken ankle, Chelsea’s somewhat depleted squad has been augmented by plenty of youngsters and former and future Loan Army warriors.