Arsenal v Chelsea- Preview and possible lineups
Given the 'Gunners' recent dip in form, it is almost imperative that they win this imminent London derby, in order to claw back the gap between themselves and one of their closest challengers to a top four spot. In fact, their recent slump has allowed Chelsea to surmount a six point gap over them heading into the match, and thus Emery's side could ill afford to drop another three points, if they are to keep their Champions League spot hopes alive.
In terms of absentees for the home side, they will have to make do without defender Rob Holding, who has been ruled out for the season with knee ligament damage. Likewise, Danny Welbeck will not feature, as he continues to recover from a broken ankle. Midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan is close to returning to full training with the squad, but he will not feature for Arsenal for at least another three weeks.
A boost for Unai Emery's side will be the probable returns of Hector Bellerin and Lucas Torreira, both whom should return to the starting XI this weekend, after respectively returning from injury and being rested against West Ham last time out. As ever, the main call for the Arsenal boss will be whether to include out of favour playmaker Mesut Ozil, who continues to be omitted from the side in spite of being fully fit.
Maurizzio Sarri's side will head into the match with a substantial six point lead over their hosts in the Premier League table, and will no doubt be relishing the prospect of strengthening their grip on the final top four spot, by beating their rivals this weekend. Furthermore, a win for the 'Blues' could spell a revival to their fledgling title hopes, although they would then also rely on leaders Liverpool and Manchester City slipping up.
With regards to potential absentees for this clash; misfiring striker Alvaro Morata is a doubt with a hamstring strain, although he could well have departed the club come kick off on Saturday evening. Therefore talisman Eden Hazard is once more likely be asked to play the false nine role for the visitors. Midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek continues to be out with a back injury. Aside from this, manager Maurizzio Sarri will have a full compliment of players to choose from.
Unai Emery on Chelsea and top four hopes:
"It's a difficult, tough match and I think it's a good test for us also. We wanted to go into this match with three points difference in the table, but our defeat at West Ham doesn't give us this possibility."
"A win will take us closer to them. This will take us one step closer to our objective and this is the test. Over 38 matches some are small finals and Saturday for us is a small final."
Sarri on aiming for bragging rights against Arsenal:
"‘It is a risk of course because Arsenal are doing well at home so it is a very difficult and dangerous for us, and it is also a great opportunity for us."
"‘They have changed it in the last seven or eight matches but we learned that they have really very dangerous movements in the offensive phase without the ball, especially when our full-back is out of the line to cover the ball, so we have to be careful and we worked on this during the week."
DID YOU KNOW?
Only Liverpool have kept more clean sheets than Chelsea this season. The 'Blues' have recorded an impressive 10 from 22 games.
Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 12 Premier League London Derbies at home; winning the last five that they have contested.
Chelsea have lost just one of their last 14 Premier League meetings with Arsenal, having drawn 5 and winning the other 8.
Arsenal: Leno; Mustafi, Sokratis, Koscielny; Bellerin, Guendouzi, Torreira, Monreal; Aubameyang, Iwobi; Lacazette.
Chelsea: Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic; Pedro, Hazard, Willian.