Chelsea vs. Arsenal predicted starting line-ups

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Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has confirmed he will be without Ramires and Didier Drogba for this Sunday's Premier League showdown with title rivals Arsenal, but that double blow pales in comparison to the injury woes of their rivals from across the capital.

Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta are the newest first-team stars unavailable to Gunners boss Arsene Wenger, a list that already includes long-term absentees Mathieu Debuchy, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud.

Wenger will be shown no mercy by Mourinho and his former captain Cesc Fabregas though, with the Chelsea chief already confirming in his pre-match press conference that he plans to start Diego Costa this weekend despite a niggling hamstring injury.

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Much of the spotlight surrounding a marquee Premier League showdown will obviously fall on Fabregas, the man who was nurtured to the top level by Wenger but has somehow ended up representing their bitter London rivals.

Fabregas has been nothing short of sensational in his first two months as a Chelsea player, although Wenger cannot afford to dwell on the Spaniard's involvement as he prepares for a fixture which saw his side battered 6-0 last season.

Wenger will surely take a slight gamble on Jack Wilshere's fitness and hope the England international can team up with Mathieu Flamini to shut Cesc down, at the expense of Santi Cazorla.

On the plus side Arsenal's pacy attack showed its devastating potential in Wednesday's 4-1 win over Galatasaray, so expect hat-trick hero Danny Welbeck to retain his place as the leader of a line which also includes Alex Oxalde-Chamberlain and Alexis Sanchez.

Mesut Ozil should stay in his preferred number 10 position but it's defensively where Arsenal will be asked the most pressing questions, by a a Blues side who have been in ominous form so far this term.

Blues in ominous early-season form

Chelsea sit proudly atop the Premier League table and have the kind of solid defensive base Arsenal fans crave, with the additions of Costa and Fabregas arguably improving a team which demolished this weekend's opponents the last time they met.

One silver lining for Gunners fans is that their arch nemesis Drogba is not fit to cause them more pain, but don't be surprised if Costa fills that void by scoring his ninth Premier League goal in only his seventh match.

Mourinho has never lost to Wenger and its hard to see that changing when the two great rivals lock horns again in West London on Sunday, with victory enough to see Chelsea open up a pretty sizeable nine-point gap on Arsenal even at this early stage of the season.

Chelsea predicted XI: Courtois, Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Azpilicueta, Matic, Fabregas, Hazard, Oscar, Willian, Costa

Arsenal predicted XI: Szczesny, Chambers, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Flamini, Wilshere, Sanchez, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Welbeck  

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