Emirates Stadium, London
Sunday, 26th April 2015; 1600 GMT
As Chelsea make the short trip across town from Fulham Road to Holloway Road, what they will face apart from a barrage of abuse is an in-form home side a in fact, THE form side of 2015.
Jose Mourinhoa s mind works differently when it comes to the big games and he doesna t lose many. In fact, since 2004 the Portuguese has lost only 3 of the 39 a biga games he has been in charge of Chelsea. The equation is clear a the away side need a win but will be happy with a draw a a point that will only leave them with 5 points to get from their remaining 5 matches for their first Premier League trophy in, well, 5 years.
Ever since losing at home to Monaco in the Champions League, the Gunners have been on a nine-match winning streak in all competitions, 6 of which have come in the Premier League. Even though Arsene Wengera s much publicized poor record against Mourinho will be on the back of his mind, his shrewd handling of Manchester City and Liverpool recently this season, will give him and his side much needed belief against possibly the biggest challenge they have faced this season so far. An in-form striker in Olivier Giroud, the most destructive midfielder in Francis Coquelin and a solid defence could very well give the Frenchman his first victory over the Portuguese in 13 attempts.
Team news and tactics
Arsenal have Per Mertesacker as the latest to join the treatment room along with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mikel Arteta. While the latter two are definitely out of contention for this game, the German has a 50-50 chance according to Wenger.
The Gunners will start in a 4-1-4-1 formation with Coquelin sitting in front of the back four to do the a dirty worka . While they tend to favour the 4-2-3-1 formation when sitting deep, Spaniard Santi Cazorla joins the attacking three of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Aaron Ramsey. Olivier Giroud is the in-form striker in the league right now and will be expecting his midfielders to help him burgeon his goal tally of 14. David Ospina is also expected to return in goal while Gabriel could feature in case Mertesacker sits this one out.
Much has been talked about Arsenala s form this year and how they are looking like the team to beat. All of the expectations built up over the past few weeks lead to this game where they will be expected to come at Chelsea a or not, if Wenger sets them up like he did against Manchester City.
Diego Costa trained throughout the week and is expected to be fit for this match, but Loic Remy will definitely miss out. Didier Drogba is also fit to start after recovering from a muscle problem. Apart from his injury-ravaged strikers, Mourinho has a fully fit squad to choose from.
This will be Cesc Fabregasa first appearance at The Emirates since 2011. The former Gunners captain will be expected to slot in to his usual double pivot in Chelseaa s 4-2-3-1 formation. If Costa is fit to start, he will lead the line up front although he is only just back from injury. If not, Chelsea could have 17-year-old striker Dominic Solanke on the bench, or even starting the game a knowing Mourinhoa s penchant for surprising us. Oscar could expect a demotion to the bench, with the more hardworking Willian taking his place.
Chelsea know that they could do with a draw and will come to the Emirates expecting to soak up the pressure and hit the home side on the counter.
Olivier Giroud (Arsenal)
The Frenchman is in the best form of his season so far and will be expected to give John Terry and Gary Cahill a tough time. He is also known to score goals in clusters and on the streak that he is right now, Chelsea will be wary of him. He will be looking to add to his 10 goals in the last 12 games.
- Chelsea have played Arsenal in more competitive games than any other team throughout their history with this match being the 184th time they meet.
- Arsenal are on an 8-match winning streak in the Premier League, picking up 33 points since January 2015, more than any other side.
- Meanwhile, Chelsea are also on a four match winning streak and if they win this, it will be their best run in the season so far.
- In the reverse fixture at the Bridge, Arsenal failed to record a shot on target, eventually losing out 2-0.
Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea
It will be a tactical battle between two experienced, technically astute coaches without either of them giving an inch. Chelsea will be expected to sit tight while Arsenal will be at their free flowing best. A draw looks the most likely result.