Top four hopefuls Arsenal and Chelsea clash at the Emirates


Arsenal take on Chelsea in a second consecutive London derby for the Gunners, who fell 1-0 away at West Ham last weekend.

Unai Emery will be desperate to recover from the loss as his side look to mount a serious challenge for the top four. The Spaniard’s men currently sit in fifth, six points off Chelsea who occupy the last of the Champions League spots.

The competition this season for one of the four illustrious spots at the summit of the Premier League table is as competitive as ever. Title challengers Liverpool and Manchester City look sure to book their place in the 2019/20 rendition of UEFA’s elite competition while Tottenham have recently been pegged back in their Champions League bid by losing to a rejuvenated Manchester United.

Therefore, although the term ‘six-pointer’ is often used in reference to teams looking to escape the drop at the rear end of the table, Saturday’s game could be pivotal in how the table finishes come May.

Neutrals will be keen to see a repeat of the two sides first meeting this season at Stamford Bridge on match day two of the Premier League campaign, a game which ended 3-2 to the Blues after Arsenal had fought back from a two-goal deficit.

Alvaro Morata was a scorer for the west London club that day but is unlikely to feature at the Emirates this weekend as speculation over his future continues to whirl, Gonzalo Higuain a touted replacement for the former Real Madrid striker.

Alvaro Morata is expected to miss the game with a hamstring problem as rumours continue over whether his career lies elsewhere (Photo: Premier League)

It’s another Chelsea attacker that Arsenal’s often suspect defence may be more concerned with in the shape of Belgian talisman Eden Hazard. The tricky playmaker has been in the form of his Chelsea career this season, boasting double figures in Premier League goals and assists, with his goals worth ten points to Chelsea so far this season.

The only man whose goals are worth more points to their side is in fact Arsenal striker Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang. The Gabon international has been in sensational form in his first full season in the Premier League currently joint-top of the goal standings with 14, alongside Mohammed Salah and Harry Kane.

Maurizio Sarri’s men are looking for their fourth win in five Premier League matches and has almost a fully-fit squad to choose from. With the exception of Morata, only Ruben Loftus-Cheek (back) and Marco Van Ginkel (knee) are concerns as the Blues aim to move above London rivals Tottenham into third before the Lilywhites play on Sunday.

Unai Emery has welcomed back plenty of first team players into training in recent weeks as his defensive headaches begin to ease. He still remains without Rob Holding (knee) and Danny Welbeck (ankle) with long term injuries whilst Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who scored and assisted in the defeat at Stamford Bridge earlier on in the season, also misses out with a foot injury.

It’s almost impossible to gauge the availability of Arsenal’s own playmaker Mesut Özil as the midfielder continues to be dubiously left out of the match day squad, often down to ‘illness’ with many fans believing the German international and his manager do not see eye to eye.

The tie has the makings of a cracker with two offensive managers squaring off as both teams look to take the initiative in the race for the top four positions.


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