What: English Premier League
Who: Chelsea vs Arsenal
When: Saturday 29th October 2011, at 12.45 UK Time
Where: Stamford Bridge, London, England

Looking for Premier League Success After Difficult Week

Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas is likely to have more difficult weeks at Stamford Bridge, but the past seven days have definitely been the most testing of his tenure so far. The repercussions of the battle of Loftus Road, a game Chelsea lost 1-0, continue to develop with club captain John Terry under FA and police investigation over alleged racist comments directed at QPR defender Anton Ferdinand. Terry denies any wrongdoing and the Blues are standing by their skipper.

On the pitch the QPR defeat was a missed opportunity after Manchester City’s handsome victory over their cross-city rivals Manchester United. Chelsea would have gone second in the table with three points. But a midweek Carling Cup victory away to Everton was ideal preparation for the visit of Arsenal, a side Villas-Boas will be keen to further knock out of the Premier League title race.

Blues midfielder Raul Meireles has warned of a hard battle, although he still expects victory. “I think tomorrow will be a different type of game from the QPR one”, said the Portuguese. “It is a derby, but it is different, there are two top teams playing who like to play good football and we prepared well. I think we are ready to play football and win the game in our stadium for our fans.”

Improving Arsenal Seek Derby Boost

Four wins out of four in all competitions has eased the pressure on Arsene Wenger after, what was by Arsenal’s standards, a disastrous start to the campaign. At the club’s AGM this week, the Frenchman asked supporters to stand by the team, but there is little doubt that the knives are still out for the tactician in some quarters.

Arsenal’s previous encounters with the Premier League’s heavyweights this term have all ended in defeat, including an embarrassing 8-2 reverse away to Manchester United. If the Gunners aim to compete at the top end of the table this season they need to stop this run of results against Chelsea.

Wenger however has slammed those who have written Arsenal out of the title script already. “How could we have drawn a line under the title after just nine games?”, commented the Gunners manager.

“Those who say this have never coached a team in their lives. There is always a chance.”

Recent form

Chelsea 5-0 Genk (19/10; Champions League)
QPR 1-0 Chelsea (23/10; Premier League)
Everton 1-2 Chelsea – After Extra Time (26/10; League Cup)

Marseille 0-1 Arsenal (19/10; Champions League)
Arsenal 3-1 Stoke City (23/10; Premier League)
Arsenal 2-1 Bolton Wanderers (25/10; League Cup)

Key absences

Chelsea: Didier Drogba (suspended); Ross Turnbull (suspended); Michael Essien

Arsenal: Jack Wilshere, Bacary Sagna; Carl Jenkinson (doubt); Kieran Gibbs

Players to watch

Chelsea – John Terry:  Another controversial week for the Chelsea captain, but as he has shown before, he can respond on the pitch with exemplary performances which in turn inspires his team-mates. Villas-Boas will have no doubts about starting with his captain and Terry will be expected to lead from the front.

Arsenal – Aaron Ramsey: There is life after Cesc Fabregas if the young Welsh starlet has anything to do with it. Ramsey is only rediscovering his best form following the horrific leg injury he suffered against Stoke City in February 2010. And with Jack Wilshere’s continued absence through injury, there is even more onus on the former Cardiff City player to make the Arsenal engine-room tick.

Match Prediction

This fixture will be one step too far for Arsenal. The Blues have a point to prove after their defeat against QPR and have the added motivation of leapfrogging Manchester United into second if the Red Devils slip up.

Even though Arsenal have undoubtedly improved in recent weeks, their confidence is still brittle. And with question marks remaining over their defence it will not take much for their heads to drop. Chelsea will seal victory 3-1.

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