The outcome of the high-profile match may not have such a big effect on the current Premier League campaign, but Arsenal have a chance to already nominate themselves as serious title contenders for the next season. Even one point from the Emirates would all but guarantee Chelsea their first league title since 2010, so chances are the Blues will be parking the bus in North London.
Even if it is too late for the Gunners to launch an assault on the Premier League title, Arsene Wenger and his players can be proud of their achievements in the second part of the season and the fans can only hope the team will hit the ground running much earlier next term. A nine-match winning run saw Arsenal climb to second in the league standings while also qualifying for the FA Cup final for the second year running and they stand a very good chance of defending the title seeing as they are up against struggling Aston Villa in the final. The Gunners could have also reached the final stages of the Champions League if it hadn’t been for the disappointing home loss to Monaco, but there is no point crying over spilt milk now. The recent performances in the Premier League only went to prove that Arsenal have enough quality to mount a serious title challenge next season, but the Gunners will want to prove their worth against current leaders Chelsea and help Arsene Wenger record his first ever win over a team coached by Jose Mourinho. The Frenchman is sweating over the fitness of Per Mertesacker, with Gabriel Paulista ready to deputize if needed, but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain continues to miss out.
It is only a matter of time before Chelsea mathematically secures the Premier League trophy, with last week’s triumph over Manchester United seeing the Blues head into the final six games of the season with a ten-point cushion at the league summit. The first league title since 2010 will be no less than Jose Mourinho’s charges deserved for incredible consistency they demonstrated throughout the campaign, although we can already say that next year’s title chase should prove much more interesting than the current one. Chelsea’s performances dropped at the time when Diego Costa was unavailable and Cesc Fabregas struggled for form, but the Blues proved they have no problems grinding out wins, recording four successive hard-fought victories to all but secure the Premier League trophy. It is highly unlikely that Chelsea players will relax before they finish the job and are crowned new champions, so we can expect Jose Mourinho’s charges to give their best to win the local derby against Arsenal. And even if the Gunners appear to be in better form at the moment, it won’t be easy for Arsene Wenger to break the curse of never having beaten The Special One. The Portuguese manager has doubts over the fitness of Diego Costa, Loic Remy and Didier Drogba, but everything suggests the Ivorian will start after recovering from an ankle problem.
A ten-point gap between the two sides will change nothing when it comes to approach to the highly-anticipated encounter, and I fully expect both teams to be feeling the nerves and look to avoid defeat at all costs. Therefore, a low-scoring encounter could be on the cards, with draw the most likely outcome at the Emirates.
Verdict: Draw (X)
Best Odds: 23/10
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