Arsenal vs Chelsea – Premier League preview and team news

Arsenal will be hoping to finish another weekend leading the standings as they attempt to get the better of Chelsea for the first time in the Premier League since October 2011 and gain revenge for a controversial defeat at Stamford Bridge back in September.

It is all very tight at the top, and with such expectation on Arsenal in a season where their fellow title hopefuls are dropping points on a regular basis, they are under pressure to continue leading the way. Two points from two very tough away matches will have given manager Arsene Wenger mixed feelings as they battled hard to put themselves in a winning position at Liverpool only to concede a late equaliser, and then earned a goalless draw against in-form Stoke City.

The latter was a game where goalkeepers emerged with much of the credit, and Petr Cech has wasted no opportunities in proving what a bargain he is, and what a mistake Chelsea made in allowing him to join a rival club for free. He will be important again here if the visitors find their attacking rhythym, but the Gunners are likely to play on the front foot and will be calling on Olivier Giroud to continue his terrific run in front of goal, while as a team they must not be affected by the behaviour of Diego Costa.

There was a huge furore surrounding the Spain international striker following his conduct in the reverse fixture, but on the whole he has had a very disappointing season, save a couple of strong performances since the departure of Jose Mourinho. While unbeaten so far under interim boss Guus Hiddink, the Blues continue to make slow progress as four of his five Premier League games in charge have ended in draws, including that extravaganza with Everton last weekend.

A controversial last-gasp leveller from John Terry saw them snatch a point in a game where they did show character to fight back on two separate occasions, but it was a clear exhibition of why Chelsea have fared so badly this term as they remain a lot, lot easier to score against than when they were cantering to the title a year ago. As a result they could find Arsenal’s tempo and fluency too tough to handle, but the quality within their side means they will always stand a chance of coming away with victory.

The home side are boosted massively by the return of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, with the latter more likely to be among the substitutes as he eases his way back from injury. Mohamed Elneny still awaits his debut.

Costa should be fit for Chelsea despite suffering a bruised shin against Everton, while Eden Hazard could be back in contention following a groin problem.

Last Meeting: For the second season in a row, this fixture finished goalless in April 2015 with little incident as Chelsea moved a point closer to clinching the title. Arsenal looked to do most of the attacking, but lacked the necessary invention to unlock an organised defence, with Per Mertesacker and Danny Welbeck coming the closest to scoring.

Played for both – Lassana Diarra: A very highly-rated player, but one who failed to make an impact on the first-team at either of these clubs. Diarra joined Chelsea in the summer of 2005 and only made 13 league appearances as he found the competition from Michael Essien and Claude Makelele too difficult to overcome. It was a similar story at Arsenal in 2007, where his lack of game time meant his stay at the club lasted just a matter of months.

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