Potential title-decider sees Premier League leaders Chelsea square off against local rivals and fellow title contenders Arsenal. Having lost to Aston Villa last weekend, the Blues need to win this tie in order to remain in the driving seat, whilst the Gunners could be effectively out of the chase if they lose at Stamford Bridge.
It is some under-par results in the so called small games that could end up costing Chelsea the Premier League trophy, and it is fair to say the Blues would not be in the race now had it not been for some impressive displays against England’s top sides. Weekend’s controversial defeat to Aston Villa came at a bad time and it is perfectly clear Jose Mourinho’s charges need to see off Arsenal in order to return to the right track. The Portuguese manager has proved to be a real master when it comes to all-important matches against title rivals, with Chelsea yet to lose a Premier League game to a top five side. The Blues did well to recover from the Aston Villa setback as they eased off to the Champions League quarter-finals by defeating Galatasaray 2-0 in the return leg at the Bridge. Jose Mourinho was certainly happy to see Samuel Eto’o continue his scoring run in midweek, and there are no doubts the Cameroon international will keep his place in the side. Nemanja Matic will be recalled as he was ineligible for the Galatasaray game, but Willian and Ramires miss out through suspension, whilst Ashley Cole is out injured.
Arsene Wenger will celebrate his 1,000th match in the Arsenal dugout when his side face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and he will obviously have just one thing on his mind. In spite of suffering quite a few slip-ups along the way, the Gunners have remained in the title chase, and now have a good chance to come even closer to the top of the standings. Having successfully overcome matches against Everton (FA Cup) and Tottenham, Arsenal will be facing Chelsea, City and Everton in the next three Premier League fixtures, and it is the results in these games that will probably determine the outcome of the season. The Gunners have not exactly impressed when facing the top sides this season, and with several important players missing, they might not be able to match Chelsea on Saturday afternoon. Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey continue to miss out, but the good news is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has shaken off a calf injury and is expected to start. Kieran Gibbs returned in the North London derby against Tottenham and will again be preferred to Nacho Monreal.
Chelsea have proved on so many occasions they have become specialists for high-profile matches and I fully expect the trend to continue. Arsenal are not exactly firing on all cylinders at the moment and having already lost at Old Trafford, Anfield and Ettihad this term, the Gunners are unlikely to fare any better at Stamford Bridge.
Verdict: Home win Chelsea (1)
Best Odds: 10/11
Bookmaker: William Hill