Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois: 'It is good to face Arsenal now'
LONDON -- Thibaut Courtois said Sunday is a good time for Chelsea to face Arsenal after the Blues marked their return to the Champions League with a 6-0 thrashing of Qarabag at Stamford Bridge.
Pedro Rodriguez, Davide Zappacosta, Cesar Azpilicueta, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Michy Batshuayi all found the net as Chelsea demolished their Azerbaijani visitors on Tuesday, earning a fourth victory in a row across all competitions since suffering a shock home defeat against Burnley on the Premier League's opening weekend.
Arsenal have lost both of their away matches in the league so far, and will also have less time to prepare for their trip to Stamford Bridge after kicking off their Europa League campaign at home to Cologne on Thursday.
"Sometimes it is good to face a big team early," Courtois said after the Qarabag win. "Last year it didn't work out against Liverpool and Arsenal, but this season we have already won at Tottenham. It is good to face Arsenal now.
"We are doing well. After the bad first half against Burnley, I think all our performances have been good. We have shown good spirit, good football and good wins most importantly of all.
"Obviously against Arsenal it will be a big game. They had a few bad matches, but won comfortably last weekend. Let's see what they do in the Europa League, but they will probably rest some guys.
"For us and for them it's a big game because we are third and obviously want to close the gap and take points off Arsenal as well. We are playing at home, it will be a great game and hopefully Chelsea will be the winner."
Antonio Conte's men should have plenty of motivation against Arsenal, having lost to their London rivals in last season's FA Cup final as well as on penalties in the Community Shield last month.
"I don't think that was a bad game from us," Courtois added of the most recent encounter, in which he missed a spot kick in the shootout. "We played a good game, but we made a stupid foul with the red card [for Pedro] and conceded from that free kick. But even with 10 men we had some chances afterwards.
"Our only bad game [this season] was against Burnley for 45 minutes, otherwise we have done well. After that, we felt that if we are not at 100 percent, we will have trouble against any team. That is the main thing we have changed in the last few weeks.
"You saw there were three changes in the back five [against Qarabag], so it is a good sign. Everyone knows how we play. So if we do change a lot, we still keep the same way of playing. Maybe one guy has different qualities than another, but we are very comfortable doing our job and that is very good."
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.