Arsenal and Chelsea face each other at the Emirates on Sunday with both sides desperate for three points for very different reasons.
The Gunners are currently tied with Leicester at the top of the league while the champions lie just four points clear of the relegation zone.
The two teams met back in September with Chelsea registering a 2-0 win, but that doesn’t tell the full story as Arsenal finished the match with nine men and Blues striker Diego Costa ruffled a few feathers, to say the least.
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Since that day the Stamford Bridge club have won just four times in the following 16 Premier league matches, leaving them in 14th position.
Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger’s men have gone in the opposite direction - losing just two Premier league matches since that defeat.
Ahead of the clash between the two London rivals, we choose our ultimate Arsenal and Chelsea XI…
GOALKEEPER: THIBAUT COURTOIS
Jose Mourinho preferred Courtois over Petr Cech throughout the duration of last season and we have to agree with him. The Belgian goalkeeper has been injured for large parts of this season, making only 11 appearances in the league, but the 23-year-old has the potential to be one of the world’s best. Cech has been magnificent in the Arsenal goal this season but he just misses out.
RIGHT-BACK: HECTOR BELLERIN
Bellerin or Branislav Ivanovic? It’s a no-brainer. The 20-year-old Spanish right-back has been excellent for the Gunners, marauding forward and defending excellently. Meanwhile, the 31-year-old Serb has been run ragged by anyone with a little bit of pace and looks extremely leggy. One of the easier decisions.
CENTRE-BACK: KURT ZOUMA
Zouma has been one of the very few positives for Chelsea this season. The 21-year-old appears to be maturing with every match and is currently keeping England’s vice-captain, Gary Cahill, out of the side. Playing alongside John Terry will do Zouma the world of good.
CENTRE-BACK: LAURENT KOSCIELNY
Koscielny joins Zouma to make it a French centre-back pairing. The 30-year-old is currently in the middle of his sixth season at the Emirates and is probably enjoying his best one yet. He, along with Per Mertesacker, has been solid at the back and is always a threat going forward from set-pieces. In fact, Koscielny has scored at least three goals in each of his Premier League seasons and has already reached that figure this time around.
LEFT-BACK: NACHO MONREAL
Along with his compatriot Bellerin, Monreal has been outstanding in the full-back position for Arsenal. He has made the left-back position his own, ahead of Kieran Gibbs, and was recently rewarded for his fine performances with a new contract until 2019.
CENTRAL-MIDFIELD: FRANCIS COQUELIN
The Frenchman may have been injured since November 21, but the central midfielder is an incredibly important player for Arsene Wenger’s side. He may not have the same attacking flair and talent as the players around him, but his ability to break up play is imperative in preventing attacks.
CENTRAL-MIDFIELD: CESC FABREGAS
Fabregas narrowly beats his former teammate Aaron Ramsey into the second central-midfield position despite his inconsistent form this season. Fabregas was irresistible after he joined the Blues last summer but has only shown glimpses of his undoubted quality this campaign. Ramsey still has a little way to go to be compared to the Spaniard but it’s sure to be an interesting battle between the pair on Sunday.
ATTACKING MIDFIELDER: MESUT OZIL
Hardly a surprising choice, is it? Just the 16 Premier League assists for the German who’s been at the heart of almost every goal Arsenal have scored this season. The Gunners missed his creativity during last Sunday’s 0-0 draw at Stoke but are likely to have have back for the clash with Chelsea. The only downside to Ozil’s game is his lack of goals - the midfielder has notched just three in the league. But needs goals when you put them on a plate for your teammates on a consistent basis?
ATTACKING MIDFIELDER: ALEXIS SANCHEZ
Sanchez has been absent from the Arsenal side since November 29 but could make his return on Sunday. The Gunners have coped well without the Chilean but welcoming him back will be a huge boost to the club. An impressive 25 goals in 52 appearances during his first season in England demonstrated that he was cut out for the Premier League and he began this campaign in similar fashion scoring nine times in 18 games. Arsenal fans must be pretty excited at seeing him and Ozil back in the same side.
ATTACKING MIDFIELD: EDEN HAZARD
Yes, we all know Hazard hasn’t even scored this season while teammate Willian has been impressive. But let’s not forget about last season where Hazard was head and shoulders above everyone in the league. He’s only shown flashes of brilliance this season and looked disillusioned with life under Jose Mourinho. The Belgian has been injured in recent weeks, but is also in line to return on Sunday. There’s a possibility that he may return back to his world-class best when fully fit.
STRIKER: OLIVER GIROUD
Giroud gets quite a lot of stick from Arsenal fans but, while he’s probably not world-class, he’s a brilliant striker. His expert touch and hold-up play brings the likes of Sanchez and Ozil into play. Strikers are often only judged on their goals and Giroud can answer those questions, especially this season. A decent 18 goals in 30 appearances has helped Arsenal reach the top of the Premier League.
Who would you put in your Arsenal and Chelsea combined XI?
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