Arsenal and Chelsea meet on Monday in an extremely important match in the context of their respective title challenges and both sides will look to earn the three points and stay close to leaders Manchester United. The Gunners were beaten by two goals to nil by the Blues at Stamford Bridge but a number of things have changed since then.
Chelsea have suffered a remarkable slump which has led to them squandering a healthy lead at the top of the table and are currently fourth in the table. They have suffered greatly due to the injuries to key players like John Terry and Frank Lampard and they have lost a lot of their confidence.
However, it has not been smooth sailing for the Gunners as well as they have been very inconsistent losing at home to Newcastle United and Tottenham since then. Arsenal have a poor record against Chelsea in the recent past and will look to set the record straight at the Emirates on Monday night.
With Manchester United playing on Sunday against Sunderland, the gap could be widened by the time their top two contenders for the Premiership meet. Arsenal and Chelsea will look to be at their best to earn a vital three points which could prove crucial in the context of the title race.
Key Player for Arsenal:
Samir Nasri has been the best player of the season for the Gunners and needs to step up in this crucial encounter. Despite the return to fitness of Cesc Fabregas, Nasri remains the key player for Arsenal and could be the one who could earn them a vital three points at the Emirates.
Key Player for Chelsea:
Didier Drogba has a great liking towards Arsenal and has an absolutely phenomenal record against the Gunners. He regained his scoring form by scoring against Tottenham and will look to improve his form by scoring against his favourite opponents.
Arsene Wenger said that Robin van Persie, Cesc Fabregas and Lukasz Fabianski were all likely to make the squad for Stoke City itself. An extra week to build fitness could be beneficial for these players and Wenger will look to his best players to deliver against a strong Chelsea team. Abou Diaby and Nicklas Bendtner could make the squad after coming through full training.
Manuel Almunia is fit according to sources but might again be excluded to provide the reserve berth for Wojciech Szczesny. Thomas Vermaelen is believed to be still some way before he recovers and is scheduled for a return in January.
Probable Starting 11:
Lukasz Fabianski; Bacary Sagna, Laurent Koscielny, Sebastien Squillaci, Gael Clichy; Cesc Fabregas, Alex Song, Robin van Persie; Samir Nasri, Marouane Chamakh, Andrei Arshavin
Wojciech Szczesny, Johan Djouroru, Emmanuel Eboue, Nicklas Bendtner, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Abou Diaby
The Blues have lost some of their important players due to injuries and suspensions but Carlo Ancelotti will have a strong squad to choose from. It is unlikely that Chelsea will have Jose Bosingwa and Alex fit for the clash but apart from that, they have all the senior players in the squad. Lampard made an appearance at White Hart Lane and is in line for his first start after his injury against Arsenal. Though Nicolas Anelka has been in poor form, he is expected to start for the Blues alongside Didier Drogba.
John Terry admitted a lack of depth in the squad which is hurting them and it is because of their failure to replace experienced players like Michael Ballack, Deco, Joe Cole and Ricardo Carvalho. The substitutes bench consists of a number of young players and Ancelotti could strengthen his squad in January.
Probable Starting 11:
Petr Cech; Paulo Ferreira, Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry, Ashley Cole; Michael Essien, John Obi Mikel, Frank Lampard; Florent Malouda, Nicolas Anelka, Didier Drogba
Ross Turnbull, Jeffrey Bruma, Salomon Kalou, Patrick van Aanholt, Joshua McEachran, Ramires, Daniel Sturridge
Wishing you and your Family a Merry Christmas!
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