On Sunday noon, old adversaries and former colleagues will reconnect at Stamford Bridge when Chelsea takes on Arsenal in a tense Premier League London rivalry.
Both teams are coming off of European victories, with the Blues defeating Dinamo Zagreb 2-1 in the Champions League and the Gunners advancing to the Europa League’s final 16.
It would take results going their way and a 12-goal swing for Chelsea to rise into the Champions League spots this weekend, but Stamford Bridge has been kind to the Blues in recent memory, as they are unbeaten in 12 consecutive matches in all competitions in front of their own fans.
However, Arsenal were the most recent team to overcome Chelsea on their own patch, and Stamford Bridge has been a happy hunting ground for the North London club in recent memory, so taking advantage of their extra 24 hours’ worth of rest will be of paramount importance to Potter and co.
All five of the points that Arsenal have dropped in the Premier League this season have come on the road, but they nevertheless remain the division’s best-performing away side this term and have only conceded four goals on rival turf so far – the best record of its kind in the league.
Arteta has led Arsenal to two consecutive triumphs at Stamford Bridge in the last two seasons – with a 2-0 win for Chelsea at the Emirates sandwiched in between – and a new club record could also be set for the Gunners, who are aiming to win three successive Premier League London derbies away from home without conceding for the very first time.
If Chelsea did not already have enough defensive absentees to worry about with long-term knee victims Wesley Fofana and Reece James – as well as midfield duo N’Golo Kante (thigh) and Carney Chukwuemeka (hamstring) – Ben Chilwell had to come off with a hamstring injury in the win over Zagreb.
The sight of the left-back limping off the pitch was bad news for both Chelsea and England fans, who will now have to await for the results of a scan, but Chilwell will definitely be absent this weekend.
Potter has already ruled Kepa Arrizabalaga out of contention too, so Edouard Mendy will keep his place in goal, and Mateo Kovacic should be fine to return to the engine room after missing out as a precaution in midweek with a tight calf.
Zakaria’s strong debut ended with a minor contact injury, which should not rule him out of this game, but Potter may be hesitant to throw the Juventus loanee in the deep end and give him his first Premier League start against the league leaders, so Kovacic’s return to the first XI would not be a surprise.
As for Arsenal, fans witnessed the familiar yet painful sight of Takehiro Tomiyasu coming off injured in the dying embers of the win over Zurich.
Possible starting lineup:
|Arrizabalaga, Kepa||Ramsdale, Aaron|
|Silva, Thiago||Magalhaes, Gabriel|
|Azpilicueta, Cesar||Saliba, William|
|Koulibaly, Kalidou||White, Ben|
|Cucurella, Marc||Tierney, Kieran|
|Havertz, Kai||Xhaka, Granit|
|Mount, Mason||Saka, Bukayo|
|Kovacic, Mateo||Partey, Thomas|
|Loftus-Cheek, Ruben||Martinelli, Gabriel|
|Sterling, Raheem||Jesus, Gabriel|
Chelsea = 20.2%
Draw = 18.3%
Arsenal = 61.5%
Chelsea 1-2 Arsenal
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