The first of three meetings in four weeks between Chelsea and Arsenal takes place on Wednesday evening as the Blues look to start 2018 with a win at the Emirates. Arsene Wenger’s side are falling behind in the race for the top four but have only lost once at home all season so it’ll be a tough ask for Antonio Conte who will want to avenge that 3-0 defeat there last season.

Team News

There are no fresh injury concerns for Chelsea but David Luiz is still expected to be sidelined with a knee injury.
After being rested against Stoke, Eden Hazard is expected to return to the starting line-up alongside Tiemoue Bakayoko and Andreas Christensen.

Arsenal are likely to be without Sead Kolasinac, who scored against Chelsea in the Community Shield at the start of the season, so Ainsley Maitland-Niles is expected to continue at left-back. Olivier Giroud, Aaron Ramsey, Nacho Monreal and Santi Cazorla are also out. Laurent Koscielny is a major doubt with an achilles problem but Mesut Ozil will return after sitting out their last game against West Brom.

Probable Arsenal XI: Cech; Chambers, Koscienly, Mustafi; Bellerin, Wilshere, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles; Ozil, Sanchez, Lacazette.

Probable Chelsea XI: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Cahill; Moses, Bakayoko, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Hazard, Morata.

Key Battles

Arsene Wenger could match Chelsea’s back three with a back three of his own but would need Laurent Koscielny to be fit to do so. If the Gunners do play with wing-backs, the likes of Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso will be going head to head with their counterparts and whoever comes out on top will have a much better chance of winning the game.

Mesut Ozil has been in great form over recent weeks but is often ineffective in games against Chelsea because of the defensive work of the Blues’ midfielders. N’Golo Kante and Tiemoue Bakayoko are going to have to do all they can to stop the German finding space.

Alvaro Morata had a tough time against the Arsenal defence in the return fixture at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season so he’ll have to find a way past the likes of Shkodran Mustafi if he wants to get on that scoresheet.

Chelsea’s record at Arsenal

The Gunners’ 3-0 victory last season was their first win over Chelsea since 2010 at their home ground and the Blues have a very good record at the Emirates since it was opened in 2007.

Don’t expect goals – there have been three goalless draws between the two sides at the Emirates since 2012 with Jose Mourinho leading two of those.

Cesar Azpilicueta is the only player in the current Chelsea squad to have scored for the Blues at the Emirates with that goal coming back in 2013 when he scored the first in a 2-0 win in the League Cup.

With the two teams meeting once again just a week after in the Carabao Cup, a win in the Premier League would do wonders psychologically as well as helping Chelsea move back into 2nd place in the table.

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