Stamford Bridge plays host to two sides scratching around for league form of late. Although Chelsea’s away form since Rafa Benitez took interim charge has impressed, enough for them to currently sit third in the Premier League table, the European champions’ home form has suffered, with only one win from his five league games in charge, albeit the victory coming in the form of an 8-0 win over Aston Villa.
The Blues enjoyed a comfortable 2-1 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates in September and considering the Gunners’ recent struggles away from home, where they have only one out of their last four league clashes, Benitez will be quietly optimistic of heaping more pressure on his counterpart Arsene Wenger, whose side currently sit six points off Tottenham and the fourth Champions League place.
Chelsea skipper John Terry is set to make his first start for the club since November and his first under Benitez. His return provides a welcome boost for the club, who are missing John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses due to Africa Cup of Nations duty. Meanwhile, Demba Ba looks set to continue up front in place of the struggling Fernando Torres.
As for Arsenal, Laurent Koscielny returns after a one-match ban and could take his place ahead of Per Mertesacker as Thomas Vermaelen’s central-defensive partner. Elsewhere, Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky miss out with calf injuries while Gervinho is also at the Africa Cup of Nations. Up front, Olivier Giroud looks set to start alongside Theo Walcott, who is fresh from finally signing a new contract at the club, leaving Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the substitutes bench.