Chelsea enter this crucial London derby sitting just one place above the bottom three after a torrid start to the season, with the Blues searching for just their second league win of 2015/16 against an Arsenal side who have recovered well from an opening day defeat.
The 3-1 loss at Goodison Park last weekend was Chelsea’s second consecutive defeat; Jose Mourinho has never lost three league matches in a row as a Premier League manager before and will be desperate to avoid doing so against his old adversary Arsene Wenger.
Mourinho’s side comfortably saw off Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Champions League in midweek, but Willian – who scored the opener – and Pedro will miss Saturday’s match with injuries. Oscar may not be risked after returning from an injury of his own in midweek, but Falcao could start to add a different option to Diego Costa up front. Asmir Begovic will continue in goal in the absence of Thibault Courtois.
Arsenal are unbeaten since a surprise opening day defeat to West Ham; their 2-0 win over Stoke last weekend saw both strikers get on the scoresheet and they kept their third consecutive clean sheet in the process.
Per Mertesacker could return on Saturday after four games out, whilst Petr Cech will hope for a clean sheet on his first return to Stamford Bridge since leaving Chelsea for Arsenal in the summer. It was announced this week that Jack Wilshere needs surgery on his broken leg and will miss the next three months, increasing the pressure on Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla in the Gunners midfield.
A midweek Champions League reverse at Dinamo Zagreb has brought familiar rumblings of discontent from the Arsenal faithful. Theo Walcott’s consolation goal combined with Olivier Giroud’s sending-off in Croatia should see the English international start on Saturday.
Arsene Wenger beat Jose Mourinho for the first time in 14 attempts in August’s Community Shield meeting; with the hosts looking vulnerable, the Frenchman will see this as an ideal chance to pile further misery on his Portuguese counterpart.
League Position: Chelsea – 17th, 4pts; Arsenal – 4th, 10pts
Last Meeting: Arsenal 1-0 Chelsea (Community Shield – August 2, 2015)
Form: Chelsea – DLWLL; Arsenal – LWDWW
Key Men: Chelsea – Diego Costa; Arsenal – Theo Walcott
Shoot says: Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal