Chelsea v Arsenal: Key battles

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In recent seasons, Chelsea v Arsenal has traditionally been a fixture contested by two sides vying for supremacy at the top of the Barclays Premier League.

However, nine games into the 2011/12 season, it will be a battle between sides currently placed third and seventh respectively in the league.

Chelsea, though, could close the gap on leaders Manchester City - if other results go their way - to three points with victory at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Arsenal, meanwhile, will move to within the same margin of the Blues should they take the spoils in this weekend's glamour match.

As both Andre Villas-Boas and Arsene Wenger prepare their sides for what will surely be an action-packed London derby, GMF takes a look at some of the key contests that will take place...

John Terry v Robin van Persie

Despite his current off-field troubles, John Terry is expected to captain Chelsea against Arsenal. He will, though, have to contend with undoubtedly the most in-form Barclays Premier League striker of the past 10 months.

Robin van Persie has scored 36 goals in his last 42 games for club and country, and has netted a brace in each of the Gunners' last two league outings.

The Holland international has given Chelsea a torrid time in the past, and Terry will have to be at his commanding best to keep van Persie at bay.

Ashley Cole v Theo Walcott

The right channel is likely to be a key area of attack in Arsenal's quest to leave Stamford Bridge with maximum points.

Theo Walcott is seemingly set to get the nod ahead of Andrey Arshavin and his pace is sure to pose a supreme test for Ashley Cole.

The Chelsea left-back is available having served a one-match suspension by missing the Carling Cup tie with Everton, and Walcott must ensure he attends to his defensive duties in order to halt Cole's marauding runs.

Juan Mata v Andre Santos

Juan Mata has been a revelation since joining Chelsea during the summer, the same of which cannot be said for Arsenal left-back Andre Santos.

The Brazil international appears likely to retain his place after an improved display against Stoke City last weekend, but he has still yet to adapt to the pace of the English game.

Mata, meanwhile, has arguably been Chelsea's best player this season and is already drawing comparisons to Blues legend Gianfranco Zola.

Frank Lampard v Aaron Ramsey

Aaron Ramsey could certainly learn a thing or two from Frank Lampard on his mission to become a box-to-box midfielder of some repute.

Arsene Wenger believes the Wales captain has the ability to frequently find the net for the Gunners - something Lampard has done at Chelsea for the past 10 years.

It will, without doubt, be an interesting tussle in west London between the master and the apprentice.

Fernando Torres v Thomas Vermaelen

Both Fernando Torres and Thomas Vermalen are expected to make respective returns on Saturday, with the former having served a three-game ban and the latter recovered from injury.

Torres appears to be recapturing his form of old; having scored four times in his last four games for Chelsea and is likely to lead the line in place of Didier Drogba.

Arsenal, meanwhile, having been desperate for Vermalen's assured presence in the defence, with the 25-year-old having been hampered by an Achilles problem for numerous months.

The Belgium international, though, may be required by Arsene Wenger to fill in for Bacary Sagna at right-back.

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