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Arsenal vs Chelsea - Match preview and team news

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By Stephen Donovan

Monday 23 December 2013

The last Premier League before Christmas is a huge one, as Arsenal will aim to recover from defeat to Manchester City by beating another title rival in Chelsea.

Arsenal v Chelsea

Arsenal were humbled at the Etihad Stadium, but it must be acknowledged that they put up a real fight and caused Man City plenty of problems going forward. Unfortunately for Arsene Wenger, a combination of sloppy defending and irresistible attacking football from the home side saw them concede six and come away with nothing.

One major positive from that game was the brace from Theo Walcott on his return to injury, but Wenger will be without two key players for this crucial game. Laurent Koscielny is injured, while Jack Wilshere has received a two-match ban for a gesture aimed at Man City supporters.

Having been overtaken by both Liverpool and Manchester City on Saturday, defeat here will see Arsenal slip to fourth place despite such a promising first four months of the campaign, and Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has a good record against the Gunners, as he is unbeaten in nine matches against the North London club.

Chelsea come into this in unconvincing form with Mourinho continuously blaming a lack of ruthlessness in front of goal for their failure to win more games. Their latest setback was defeat to Sunderland after extra time in the Capital One Cup, a game where they looked like comfortably moving into the semi-finals for long spells.

Their last Premier League performance was also edgy as they scraped past Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge, and they have shown a weakness on their travels this season. However, they still remain within touching distance of top spot in Mourinho’s comeback season.

Aside from Wilshere and Koscielny - who will be replaced by Thomas Vermaelen - Arsenal will be without Abou Diaby, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Yaya Sanogo, although they are boosted by the return of forward Lukas Podolski.

Chelsea are without the suspended Michael Essien, who has picked up five yellow cards, while Branislav Ivanovic returns from a one-match ban of his own. Marco van Ginkel is a long-term absentee.

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