What: English Premier League
Who: Chelsea vs Arsenal
When: Sunday 3rd October, 2010, at 16:00 UK time
Where: Stamford Bridge, London, England

Getting Back Up

Few people might have actually expected it, but league leaders Chelsea lost last weekend as they travelled up north to face summer spenders Manchester City, with the hero on the night being the Citizens’ new captain, Carlos Tevez. Having made peace with their fans by easily beating Marseille in their midweek Champions League clash, they now host Arsenal, in what has become one of the fiercest London rivalries.

Personally, Carlo Ancelotti will have little time preparing his squad for the crunch match, as he returned to Italy to attend his father’s funeral. However, Chelsea have confirmed that the former AC Milan boss will get back in time for the Arsenal game. For his part, Didier Drogba acknowledged the importance of the big clash saying: “I don’t think we can afford to lose a second game [after Manchester City], especially against Arsenal." Indeed, two Premier League defeats in a row could blow Chelsea off course.

Shaking Off West Brom Blues

Arsene Wenger could not explain Arsenal’s poor performance against West Brom in their last Premier League game, and defeat was certainly not something the Frenchman had in mind against Roberto Di Matteo’s newly promoted side. However, Arsenal bounced back in midweek, leaving Serbia with three points after a professional job against Partizan Belgrade in the Champions League.

A trip to face Chelsea is one of the season’s biggest challenges for Arsenal though, and one in which they have often come up short in recent years. Switching their focus back to the Premier League straight away is vital as full back Bacary Sagna pointed out: “Now we need to stay focused and look forward to the next game, and we have to make something at Chelsea.” Whether Wenger can reverse the trend of struggle against the Blues however, remains to be seen.


Recent form

Chelsea 3-4 Newcastle United (22/09; League Cup)
Manchester City 1-0 Chelsea (25/09; Premier League)
Chelsea 2-0 Marseille (28/09; Champions League)

Tottenham Hotspur 1-4 Arsenal (21/09; League Cup)
Arsenal 2-3 West Bromwich Albion (25/09; Premier League)
FK Partizan 1-3 Arsenal (28/09; Champions League)

Key absences

Chelsea: Yossi Benayoun (doubt); Jose Bosingwa (doubt); Salomon Kalou; Frank Lampard

Arsenal: Nicklas Bendtner (doubt); Manuel Almunia (doubt); Cesc Fabregas; Thomas Vermaelen; Theo Walcott; Robin van Persie; Aaron Ramsey

Players to watch

Chelsea – Nicolas Anelka: Arguably the best player on the pitch against Marseille, Anelka will spearhead the attack alongside Didier Drogba and Florent Malouda once more. One of Chelsea’s leading men once again under Ancelotti, Anelka is bound to create havoc should he slip off Arsenal’s radar. And scoring against his old club would surely be sweet.

Arsenal – Lukasz Fabianski: A hero on the night for Arsenal against Partizan Belgrade, Fabianski will be relishing every minute of play with Manuel Almunia rated as doubtful. Having had torrid times in the past, “Flappyhandski” – as he is nicknamed by the Arsenal fans – will want to bury this moniker and establish himself as the Gunners’ number one between the sticks.

Match prediction

Both teams go into the weekend in similar heart, having unexpectedly lost their last Premier League match, but bounced back in the Champions League. As usual, Arsenal have their own growing list of injuries, but that certainly won’t be an excuse for them to fail against Chelsea. However, the Stamford Bridge outfit have been close to perfect lately, and a second surprise in a week is unlikely to occur. Expect Chelsea to earn full points with a 3-1 scoreline.