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Arsenal v Chelsea: Match preview

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With Arsenal losing to Manchester City in the last round of fixtures in the Barclays Premier League, any one of four teams could be top of the table by Christmas. 

On Monday, Chelsea will head to the Emirates the take on the Gunners, who will be desperate to maintain their slim lead at the summit of the league. This game is most certainly one of - if not the biggest game of the season so far.

Team news:

Arsenal - Having picked up a knee injury at the Etihad, Laurent Koscielny is a doubt in the heart of Arsenals defence.

Jack Wilshere also won't feature on Monday as he serves the first of a two-match ban for his gesture towards the City fans during their defeat.

The absences of Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain through injury mean they still await their return to action.

Chelsea - After picking up a booking in the league cup exit in mid-week, Michael Essien will be unavailable for the game through suspension.

During their defeat to Sunderland on Tuesday, Jose Mourinho gave much of Chelsea's 'second team' a run-out. So despite having less rest than Arsenal, all of their core players will be fit and ready to play.

Both sides come into this big game not on the best of form. Arsenal have recently lost at City conceding six, been defeated by Napoli and dropped points at home against Everton.

That being said, none of these results are particularly damaging to Arsenal's season. City could be any team in the league on their day, they still qualified to the knockout stages of the Champions League despite losing to Napoli and they're certainly not the first big club to drop points against Everton.

For Chelsea - it's a very mixed bag. Despite picking up results against Crystal Palace and Steaua Bucharest, their performances have been far from convincing in these games.

On top of this, they have recently suffered shock defeats to Stoke and Sunderland. This string of performances has lead to Mourinho claiming his side just aren't finishing enough of their chances to kill games. These comments of course mean that the finger is once again pointed at Chelsea's underperforming strikers.

Fernando Torres sat on the bench for 120 minutes as he watched Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba struggle against a Sunderland defence that was on the ropes for much of the game. Eto'o in particular passed up a half chance and a one-on-one will the goalkeeper which could have put Chelsea out of sight and into the semi-finals.

There can be no doubt about it - Chelsea's strikers have quality, as they've proven over the years. Out of their current front men though, it's most definitely Torres who shows flashes of this quality most frequently. On his day, he can win a game for Chelsea against the toughest of opponents- which he showed against Manchester City at the Bridge. Expect him to start on Monday night and attempt to show his quality again.

As for Arsenal, a lot of credit has to be given to Olivier Giroud for how well Arsenal have performed this season. He's held the ball up well, linked well with his midfielders and most importantly scored goals. However, Arsene Wenger needs to sign a quality striker in January to spread the workload between them and Giroud as the season becomes more laborious.

However, Giroud hasn't found the net in five matches and he'll be looking to end this mini drought on Monday against the Blues. So the result of the match could be decided by which teams' striker puts in a match-winning performance.

In the last game between these two teams, Chelsea emerged victorious in the Capital One Cup, with goals from Azpilicueta and Mata sealing the win in a dominant performance. Mata's performance in this game may see him get a recall to the starting XI. This will be Jose's main selection headaches before the game.

Wenger of course will have to shuffle his pack slightly with Wilshere suspended and the probable absence of Koscielny. These absences will probably see Thomas Vermaelen and Santi Cazorla return to the starting XI.

Predicted Starting line-ups-

Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic Cahill Terry Azpilicueta, Ramires Mikel Hazard Oscar Schurrle, Torres.

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna Vermaelen Mertesacker Gibbs, Flamini Arteta Ramsey Ozil Cazorla, Giroud.

Whoever starts, this game has blockbuster written all over it!


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Topics:
Fernando Torres
Premier League
Arsenal
Chelsea
Football

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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