Chelsea are set to host Arsenal on Sunday, January 20, in a match that could help firm up a Champions League spot for the winners, with both teams virtually out of the race for the title.
Chelsea are currently in third place on the points table, 13 points behind leaders Manchester United. Arsenal are three places adrift in sixth but have a game in hand, compared with the Stamford Bridge side.
Chelsea won the reverse tie 2-1 at the Emirates but are unlikely to give in to complacency, especially as their home record has been poor under Rafael Benitez. The latest evidence of that record came on Wednesday when lowly Southampton held the 2012 Champions league winners to a 2-2 draw in the FA Cup. While Arsenal did better, beating Swansea in a replayed 3rd round game at home, the Gunners would be ruing their 2-0 loss away to Man City in match week 22 of the Premier League.
John Terry’s return from injury is the silver lining in Chelsea’s cloud which has looked bleak with Benitez at the helm. With Mikel away doing national duty in the African Cup of Nations, David Luiz is likely to get another opportunity to relish a midfield role. Lampard, in what is likely to be his last season with the Blues, looks certain to play while Torres appears to have lost out to Dembe Ba who has lost no time getting among the goals since being signed (three strikes in as many games).
Arsenal languishing in sixth place have a match against Liverpool scheduled this month and a Champions League spot is beginning to appear elusive. The Arsenal attack has stuttered along and it was left to Jack Wilshere’s late goal to edge his side past Swansea in the FA Cup. Koscielny is set to return from suspension while injury has laid low Mikel Arteta ahead of the Stamford Bridge game. The midfield should gain strength owing to Abou Diaby’s return.
This one is a tough one to predict with both teams appearing nervy, but Chelsea should just edge it on the back of crowd support.
Chelsea’s probable eleven: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole Luiz, Lampard, Mata, Hazard, Ramires, Ba.
Arsenal’s probable eleven: Szczesny, Sagna, Vermaelen, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Wilshere, Coquelin, Cazorla, Giroud, Podolski, Walcott.
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Jinxatious is the Chief Editor of SportingAttitude.com
An avid writer, on an eclectic range of subjects, he brings to bear editorial experience garnered with a national newspaper in South-East Asia. He also has sportscasting experience, as a cricket commentator, and his passion for sport extends beyond Cricket, to Football, Tennis, and Olympic Sports.