Lying just a place above the bottom three, defending champions Chelsea will hope to build on their midweek Champions League victory by getting the better of an Arsenal side who triumphed when the clubs met in the Community Shield in August.
Although up against limited opposition in Maccabi Tel-Aviv, it was huge for the Blues to get back to winning ways in what has been a very poor start to the season, bouncing back well from a jaw-dropping penalty miss from Eden Hazard, who along with Cesc Fabregas is still finding his best form highly elusive. The same has also been said about Diego Costa, but the combative striker made the first step towards putting that right with a fine volley to put the game beyond doubt.
Now the target is to come up with that kind of result in the Premier League, with the focus very much on tightening up at the back following the loss at Everton where they were carved open on many occasions. Of all the statistics that cast Chelsea’s start in a negative light, none are more staggering than the fact they have the worst defensive record in the top-flight with some 12 goals conceded. They have often frustrated Arsenal in the past, but a major improvement is needed in order to do again.
The visitors sit fourth on the table with 10 points and boast the best away record of any club in 2015, but that did not count for much in their opening European encounter away to Dinamo Zagreb as they had Olivier Giroud sent off and slipped to a disastrous defeat. With the Croats being the least fancied team in the group, Arsenal are now up against it for the remainder of their Group F campaign, but securing all three points here will carry plenty of meaning for the club, who have suffered at Stamford Bridge in recent seasons.
This promises to be a colossal meeting of the minds, particularly as Arsene Wenger claimed his first win over counterpart Jose Mourinho last time they met. Francis Coquelin has made the defensive midfield position his own since January, and he has the potential to be his side’s most crucial player on the day, while Theo Walcott’s pace will be a huge weapon against a Chelsea back four that is severely lacking in confidence.
Radamel Falcao should be fit for Chelsea after missing the last two games, but Pedro and Willian will both miss out through injury.
Arsenal hope to have Per Mertesacker back from illness, and they are likely to make several changes having rotated the squad for the game in Zagreb.
Last Meeting: Chelsea scored goals either side of half-time in October 2014 to win comfortably in a game somewhat overshadowed by a touchline clash between the two managers. The magnificent quick feet of Eden Hazard led to the first as he was brought down for a penalty which he himself converted, and the second came from Diego Costa, who finished after collecting a long pass from Cesc Fabregas.
Played for both – Emmanuel Petit: France World Cup winner Petit spent three years at Arsenal from 1997, and played an important role in handing Arsene Wenger his first Premier League crown. Overall he scored nine goals in 85 games at Highbury, and later finished his career across London at Chelsea, where he scored twice in 55 league appearances.
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