If you needed any reminder of how Arsenal’s trips to Stamford Bridge usually go, then just remember we’ve won one in the last 11 fixtures across the road.
For Arsene Wenger, it’s yet another case of same destination, different manager, and relations will be a lot better this weekend with Antonio Conte in charge.
Despite the Arsenal boss having to sit in with the home supporters, his only job is to get the starting line-up correct against a side that could move 12 points clear.
But if Wenger can do anything to stop that from happening, he must inject the pace back into the squad with the likes of Giroud, Monreal and Ramsey getting dropped.
Talking of Ramsey, he’ll now face three weeks out of action with a calf problem, and whilst Xhaka is suspended it’s a real chance for The Ox to shine in central midfield.
So here’s my starting XI, but I’d love to know what you think, join the debate by following and tweeting us @Fresh_Arsenal.
Goalkeeper: Petr Cech
Many people were jumping on the back of Cech when he conceded two against Watford on Tuesday night, but he rarely gets rewarded for the games he’s kept us in. A deflected free-kick and mix up in defence is not enough to justify him being dropped.
Right-Back: Hector Bellerin
Get him back in the starting XI, now. When we play with Bellerin, the whole of our right hand side of midfield has confidence in getting forward. His pace makes him a perfect wing-back type of player, and he’ll love to get in behind Chelsea on the break.
Centre Back’s: Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny
Pretty understandable really, but a schoolboy error on Tuesday night will be sitting in the back of Mustafi’s head going into this one and if we know him, he’ll want to make amends. Against Costa earlier this season, I felt it was this duo’s best game together, and we need to see them touch-tight to the striker in order to put him off his goalscoring form.
Left-Back: Kieran Gibbs
Pace, reliability and the understanding of what this fixture means to Arsenal fans. Gibbs might not be the perfect left-back, but when it comes to him over Monreal, at the moment the Spaniard just isn’t showing me the form of last season.
Centre-Defensive Midfield: Francis Coquelin and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Again, not really much choice here unless Wenger opts for the young legs of Ainsley Maitland-Niles. These two have to know what their job is though, with Coquelin have to manage a heavy-duty attack line he won’t be able to do all of the tackling himself. The Ox must ensure he does the leg work too, because he didn’t have to do much tracking back against Southampton, this will come as a big chance to prove himself.
Right Midfield: Theo Walcott
When Walcott’s in the side this season, we score goals. Having bagged a hat-trick on his return I was baffled Wenger left this guy out of the team to play Watford. He’s got a history of scoring against Chelsea, and is in better fitness than Welbeck.
Centre-Attacking Midfield: Mesut Ozil
This is where we need Mesut to show why he’s considered a world-class player, and we need to see a positive attitude from the off otherwise he’ll be kicking himself for 90 minutes. It’s difficult to read Ozil, but he will be pivotal to opening up Chelsea’s back three.
Left Midfield: Lucas Perez
If you’ve read any of my previous work then you’ll know I’m a huge fan if Lucas now. He’s physical, quick and not scared to try things in and around the box. Chelsea won’t know too much about his game due to lack of appearances so he could be seen as Wenger’s trump card.
Centre Forward: Alexis Sanchez
It’s time to ditch the Giroud thing because it’s not working anymore. Many of you will agree he would’ve been perfect to come on in the final 20 minutes against Watford, but that’s it. He’s an impact player and when we used him for that, things were much better. Alexis brings all sorts of problems to the Chelsea defence, who will push high up the pitch. Combinations of Alexis, Walcott and Ozil and frightening.
My Line-Up vs. Chelsea: Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Gibbs, Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Ozil, Lucas, Alexis
Join the debate, follow and tweet us now on @Fresh_Arsenal!