Chelsea and Arsenal prepare to meet for the 166th time today as Arsene Wenger welcomes the 12th Chelsea manager he has faced to the Emirates.
Danny Welbeck, Per Mertesacker and Carl Jenkinson will not be featuring for Arsenal as all three are still out with long-term knee injuries. Meanwhile, Wenger confirmed to the official club website that Aaron Ramsey is unlikely to be available before next month’s international break as he is still struggling with his hamstring injury.
The Welshman is set to miss his national side’s matches as well. On Ramsey’s prolonged time on the sidelines, Wenger said: “We had a few disappointments because he was close to joining again and every time he is not completely ready. Not far, but we have to be cautious with him.”
He further added: “He is not completely free in his mind yet to push completely, so we stop him every time when he has a little pain. He is in the last days of his rehab and as long as he is not completely comfortable, we do not push him.”
Alexis Sanchez was tipped to start up front once again for the Gunners given Olivier Giroud’s injury, but Wenger revealed that the Frenchman has recovered ahead of schedule. “Olivier Giroud has a test to see if he can be involved, he had a good training session [on Thursday] so he is really the only one who could come back,” said the Gunners’ manager.
Antonio Conte will be without John Terry going into this league game. The Chelsea captain suffered an injury against Swansea a few weeks ago and hasn’t featured in the team since. He was widely expected to return for this tie, but Antonio Conte has revealed in his pre-match press conference that despite the Englishman’s efforts, he couldn’t recover in time for the game.
“John Terry is working hard but he didn’t recover for the game against Arsenal. I don’t know when he will play because it is important what the player feels, and the pain he feels,” Conte is quoted as saying by Chelsea’s official website.
Many fans have been calling for Cesc Fabregas to feature in Chelsea’s midfield after putting in superb shifts when he has been on the pitch for them, especially after he scored the winner against Leicester City in midweek.
Discussing Cesc Fabregas’ return to the Emirates, Conte said that the Spaniard will likely feature, but that he is yet to make a final decision on his starting lineup. “For Cesc this is a special game but the most important thing for Cesc now is that he is a Chelsea player and he is playing very well for Chelsea,” said the Italian.
“I am seeing him very focused and concentrated during the training and he played a good game in the cup. It is a possibility he can start [against] Arsenal. I have another day to make the decision.”