A London derby, a top of the table crunch match and a title decider is up for grabs this Sunday as Arsenal host Chelsea in a return fixture of Barclays Premier League. The league leaders were 2-0 winners in the reverse fixture. They will be out with the same ambition as a win would leave them with just 3 points adrift the title.
TEAM NEWS, INJURY UPDATES AND SUSPENSIONS
Call it a miracle, but the Gunners do not have a long list of injured players this time around. However, Mikel Arteta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will not be able to play any part in the derby due to injuries. Last but not the least, Mr. Tortoise aka Per Mertesacker is in the race to be fit for the selection and expected to win at least this off-pitch race.
After picking up minor injuries in training, striker duo Didier Drogba and new fan favourite Loic Remy are both in a bid to be fit for the match and hand Jose a relief in selection. However, a major relief is that Diego Costa is fit and expected to lead the line against Arsenal according to Jose Mourinho. After serving few weeks on the sidelines, John Obi Mikel is also available for selection having played some part in the 1-0 win over Manchester United as well.
PLAYER VS PLAYER BATTLES
Diego Costa vs. Koscielny
The fearsome striker is back after injury ready to start from where he left. The Spaniard was the scorer of the second goal in Chelsea’s 2-0 victory at the Bridge earlier. It will be interesting to see giant monster versus a skinny boy.
Eden Hazard vs. Hector Bellerin
It does not matter who they put up against the Belgian maestro if the magician is on his day, and almost every day is his day off late. The Belgian was the only scorer in the crucial win over Manchester United at the Bridge and will be looking to continue his impressive run.
Alexis Sanchez vs. Branislav Ivanovic
The Serbian used to come up on top when assigned some task to shut down a player. Well, to be fair, this time the task is a little difficult as the Chilean has been in his best form since signing for the Gunners in the summer.
Olivier Giroud vs. John Terry
Olivier Giroud has scored ten goals in his last twelve matches in all competitions and will be a constant upfront. He will definitely make Terry’s life difficult, be it alone or with Gary Cahill.
Arsenal are expected to open with a 4-1-4-1 formation. The main target-man will be Giroud upfront on high crosses in the box. Adding to it, Cazorla and Sanchez will be putting in some pacey runs down the wings to open the gap a little. But still Ozil has to be the man in the mid and is expected to distribute fancy passes to open up the gap.
Chelsea will play with a 4-3-3 hybrid formation with Hazard, Willian and Costa trying to hit on the counter. Looking at the table, the West London side are expected to play a ‘cool-as-cucumber’ strategy and would be satisfied even with a draw. And will pounce on any mistake the Gunners make and punish them. However, Cesc Fabregas will be at the Emirates for the first time since his summer move to Chelsea and will not be expecting a warm welcome from the North London faithful. It will be interesting to see if he does get to celebrate the winner in the London derby.
SOME INTERESTING FACTS
- Arsenal are yet to register a win over Chelsea in their own backyard since 2010.
- The Gunners have won their last nine home matches in the Premier League.
- Olivier Giroud had scored ten goals in his last twelve matches in all competitions and will be a constant threat.
- Surprisingly, Arsenal are not in their usual number ‘4’ position in the table.
- Chelsea are currently 10 points clear of second-placed Arsenal at the top of the league.
- A win at the Emirates will mean the leaders can seal the title with another win against Leicester City on Wednesday.
- The Blues have won with just a one goal margin in their last four away games.
- Eden Hazard has scored five goals in his last seven matches in all competitions including the winner against Manchester United.
- Arsene Wenger has ‘NEVER’ beaten Jose Mourinho in 12 previous matches losing seven and sharing points on 5 occasions.
LAST 5 PREMIER LEAGUE MEETINGS
29 Sep 2012 Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea
20 Jan 2013 Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal
23 Dec 2013 Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea
22 Mar 2014 Chelsea 6-0 Arsenal
05 Oct 2014 Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal
PREDICTED STARTING LINE-UPS
Arsenal: Ospina(GK), Bellerin, Paulista, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Ramsey, Ozil, Cazorla, Sanchez, Giroud.
Chelsea: Courtois (GK), Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (C), Azpilicueta, Matic, Ramires, Willian, Fabregas, Hazard, Costa.
Arsenal 0-1 Chelsea
TIME: 1500 GMT / 2030 IST
VENUE: Emirates Stadium
REFEREE: Michael Oliver
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Edited By: Vikram Vadiganeni