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More than bragging rights at stake as Arsenal take on Chelsea in must-win London derby

Emirates Stadium sets the stage for an all-London Premier League showdown between title-bidding Arsenal and European hopefuls Chelsea on Tuesday.

With all three title contenders in action this midweek and the Gunners looking down on the rest after a 2-0 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday, there’s no wriggle room. 

Mikel Arteta’s men can’t afford a slip-up after a 2-0 defeat to Aston Villa in their last home league outing propelled perennial champions Manchester City to the table’s summit.

Arsenal took advantage of Man City’s FA Cup duties to return to the top, but with a game in hand, Pep Guardiola’s men are still masters of their destiny. 

The Gunners will be out to hold up their end of the bargain and can draw courage from Chelsea’s gut-wrenching FA Cup elimination to the Cityzens at the weekend.

In an evenly-contested semi-final tie at Wembley Stadium, highlighted by an array of Nicolas Jackson’s misses, Mauricio Pochettino’s charges were on the receiving end of a 1-0 scoreline. 

After squandering their last chance to avoid another trophyless season, the Blues return to the Premier League, buoyed by an eye-catching eight-game unbeaten streak (W4, D4).

What seemed improbable midway through the campaign has become a distinct possibility amidst Chelsea’s form resurgence as they sit only three points adrift of sixth-placed Newcastle United, with a game in hand.

Match Preview

The aforementioned loss to Villa remains the only blemish on Arsenal’s formidable Premier League form in 2024, with the Gunners winning 11 of their 12 remaining league games this year (D1). 

It’s imperative for Arteta’s title-aspiring team to uphold that rampant run against a Chelsea team they have only lost to once in their last eight top-flight encounters (W5, D2).

Despite drawing 2-2 in October’s reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge, the hosts can fall back on a 3-1 win in this match-up last term and their outstanding form in midweek Premier League action.

Arsenal have suffered just one defeat in their last 18 Tuesday-held league games on home turf in a run stretching back to 2005 (W11, D7), including a home win against the Blues in 2022/23.

Pochettino returns to north London as a foe in pursuit of a much-needed win after wasting another opportunity to lift his first piece of silverware on English soil last weekend.

With the odds stacked against his side, the Argentine must not only defy expectations but address Chelsea’s form woes in the midweek schedule, having lost four of their last five Tuesday-held away league matches (D1). 

Confidence stems from the Blues’ longest unbeaten Premier League streak since March 2021 and their free-scoring form on the road that has seen them find the net on 12 of their last 13 league travels.

Team News

Long-term absentee Jurrien Timber is the only first-team star Arteta can’t call upon for this London derby, as Takehiro Tomiyasu could make the squad after missing the Wolves game due to a knock.

He should have the upper hand on Oleksandr Zinchenko, who has recently tumbled down the pecking order at the Emirates.

The situation is far worse in the visiting camp.

Christopher Nkunku, Levi Colwill, Reece James, Romeo Lavia, Robert Sanchez, Lesley Ugochukwu and Wesley Fofana are still on the sidelines.

As if that’s not troubling enough, Cole Palmer has struggled with illness since Saturday’s clash against Man City and will likely skip this cross-capital trip.

Arsenal vs Chelsea Potential Line-ups

Arsenal (4-3-3): David Raya; Ben White, William Saliba, Gabriel Magalhaes, Takehiro Tomiyasu; Jorginho, Declan Rice, Martin Odegaard; Bukayo Saka, Kai Havertz, Leandro Trossard.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Djordje Petrovic; Axel Disasi, Thiago Silva, Trevoh Chalobah, Ben Chilwell; Moises Caicedo, Enzo Fernandez; Noni Madueke, Conor Gallagher, Raheem Sterling; Nicolas Jackson.

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