The Blues are preparing for a match that could be pivotal in the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League
Chelsea’s visit to the Emirates on Saturday is not only a London derby, but it could also see them deliver a heavy blow to Arsenal’s hopes of finishing in the top four, and thus qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
Maurizio Sarri’s side are six points ahead of their north London rivals, who have had a revolution of their own as Unai Emery takes over from Arsene Wenger after his 22-year spell in charge of the club.
The Blues are also looking over their shoulder at Manchester United, but their win over Newcastle United last week was a big boost as Arsenal lost to West Ham in another London derby.
Alvaro Morata is back in contention for Chelsea after a recent hamstring injury ruled him out of the Carabao Cup match with Tottenham. However, his future is in doubt with Atletico Madrid interested in getting a January deal over the lineand he wasn’t selected to face Newcastle last weekend, despite being fit.
Cesc Fabregas has left to join Monaco, while Gary Cahill is in talks over a move to Fulham and has missed several recent matchday squads.Ruben Loftus-Cheek could be out for an extended period of time with a back injury, coming off in the 2-0 FA Cup win over Forest, but Chelsea are thought to have no further injuries.
Neither Chelsea nor Arsenal have any suspensions to contend with ahead of Saturday’s match.
Chelsea Potential Starting Line-Up
Chelsea will continue to play a full-strength team, as Eden Hazard’s deployment as a ‘false 9’ becomes plan A for Sarri with Pedro or Willian flanking him in the wide positions.
Mateo Kovacic’s return from injury will likely see him thrust back into the action and Sarri’s rare midweek without a match should ensure his team are fully prepared for Saturday.
Sarri has kept rotation to a minimum in his time as Chelsea boss; Kepa Arrizabalaga, Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, Marcos Alonso and N’Golo Kante have started every league match this season.
Arsenal Team News
Arsenal have several out on the long-term injured list with Danny Welbeck having broken his ankle earlier in the season. Rob Holding is out with a torn cruciate ligament, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan is expected to miss out with a shorter-term foot injury.
Arsenal are thought to have a full selection available beyond those issues.
TV channel & kick-off time
The match at Stamford Bridge kicks off at 5:30pm GMT (12:30pm ET) on Saturday and will be shown on BT Sport in the UK.
Best Opta Match Facts
- Arsenal have won just one of their last 14 league games against Chelsea (D5 L8), with that win coming at the Emirates in September 2016 (3-0).
- Only Liverpool (13) have kept more Premier League clean sheets this season than Chelsea (10), while only Fulham (2) have kept fewer than Arsenal (3).
- Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 12 Premier League London derbies at home (W9 D3), winning the last five in a row. Their last such defeat was in January 2016 vs Chelsea.
- Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud could become the second player to score for both clubs in Premier League meetings between Arsenal and Chelsea, after Cesc Fabregas.
- Chelsea’s Eden Hazard has been directly involved in 199 goals in his league career (115 goals, 84 assists), with 2018-19 just the second campaign in which he’s reached double figures for both goals and assists (also in Ligue 1 in 2011-12).
- Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (12) and Chelsea’s Eden Hazard (10) are the two players whose goals have been worth the most points for their sides in the Premier League this season.