19th January, 2019
Arsenal will be keen to get back to winning ways when they lock horns with London rivals Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
Unai Emery’s side suffered a 1-0 defeat to West Ham in their last outing, a result which widened the gap to the Blues in fourth place.
However, they have a chance to regain some ground in the hunt for Champions League qualification when they welcome Maurizio Sarri’s side to north London.
Chelsea recovered from their Carabao Cup loss to Tottenham last week by beating Newcastle United 2-1 at Stamford Bridge and they will be hoping to move up to third with a win over the Gunners.
Arsenal Squad News
Arsenal have a number of enforced absences, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Danny Welbeck and Rob Holding missing due to injuries.
Mkhitaryan is out with a broken metatarsal, but is expected to be available in a week’s time for the Gunners’ FA Cup clash with Manchester United. Holding is laid low with a knee injury and Welbeck is nursing an ankle complaint.
Mesut Ozil has missed out in recent fixtures and speculation has intensified over his future, but he could potentially return to the match day squad.
Possible Arsenal XI: Leno; Sokratis, Mustafi, Koscielny; Bellerin, Kolasinac; Torreira, Xhaka, Ramsey; Aubameyang, Lacazette.
Chelsea Squad News
While Alvaro Morata is expected to have recovered from a hamstring problem, the Spain international could end up sitting out the game as his future remains up in the air.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek is likely to miss out with a back problem, while Gary Cahill – another player linked with an exit from Stamford Bridge – has been left out of recent matchday squads.
Possible Chelsea XI: Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Jorginho, Kante, Kovacic; Pedro, Willian, Hazard.
Chelsea came out on top when the sides met last August – with Marcos Alonso’s late strike securing a 3-2 victory at Stamford Bridge – but while they might hold a psychological edge over the Gunners, Sarri is anticipating an entirely different experience on Saturday.
“In August [against Arsenal], it was a different match,” the former Napoli coach said. “They have changed in the last seven or eight matches, but we learned that they have really very dangerous movements in the offensive phase without the ball.
“I think we can be dangerous against this opponent but we have to defend with a very high level of application and attention for 95 minutes.”
The Gunners come into the game a wounded animal and their defeat against West Ham means that they have registered just two wins in their last five matches in all competitions.
With an FA Cup clash against Manchester United up next as well as an encounter with Manchester City in the league on the horizon, they will be eager to build their confidence and gather some momentum with a home win.