The Mind Series will get underway on Sunday as London rivals Chelsea and Arsenal square off at the Emirates Stadium.
A fundraising mission for mental health charity Mind, the two sides will battle it out with Tottenham over the coming weeks for local pride, but more importantly, in an attempt to raise awareness of a topic which is criminally ignored both in football and in the wider world.
It’s one of those games where the result doesn’t really matter, but let’s not pretend like either team will be happy losing to the other. This is a London derby, after all.
Here’s 90min‘s preview of the game.
Arsenal fans will be hoping to see a glimpse of new boy Ben White, who sealed his £50m move from Brighton on Friday. The centre-back has joined up with the squad already and will hope to get some minutes under his belt.
With just two games and 12 days left until the start of the season, Mikel Arteta will look to give some more of his heavy hitters some minutes, but one question mark surrounds the involvement of Granit Xhaka.
The Swiss midfielder wants to leave to join Roma, but talks have broken down and he has since been offered a new deal. If Arteta wants him in the squad, he could do with some game time now.
Chelsea‘s big guns have started returning to training over the past week and they can be expected to feature here. Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, N’Golo Kante and Mason Mount are four of many who need to start building up their fitness again.
As far as new signings go, there might be some minutes for Marcus Bettinelli, but Thomas Tuchel’s focus will likely be on fine-tuning Edouard Mendy and Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Arsenal: Leno; Chambers, Mari, Holding, Tierney; Partey, Sambi Lokonga; Pepe, Smith Rowe, Aubameyang; Lacazette.
Chelsea: Mendy; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; James, Kante, Jorginho, Hudson-Odoi; Mount, Werner; Havertz.
Obviously, this match won’t count in the history books, but Chelsea will still be out for revenge after coming up short in their last three matches against Arsenal.
The Gunners are undefeated in their last four games against Chelsea, the last of which was a 1-0 victory over Tuchel’s men towards the end of last season. Arteta is just one of three managers to beat the German in Premier League action, so Chelsea will definitely be out for revenge.
You have to head back to December 2019 for Chelsea’s last victory over Arsenal, which came courtesy of late strikes from Jorginho and Tammy Abraham.
Predicting pre-season friendlies is a perilous job. Players are rusty and managers are experimenting with new styles of play, so any logic goes right out the window.
If we over-analyse this for a second, the fact that a lot of Arsenal’s big names have already been part of pre-season friendlies could give them the edge. Mendy and Christian Pulisic are the only Chelsea players who featured in the Champions League victory to have featured so far this summer, so there is a whole lot of ring-rust to shake off.
That probably makes Arsenal narrow favourites for the game, but with so many changes and tweaks likely to disrupt their rhythm, this one might end up honours even.
Prediction: Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea