The Premier League top two meet when Arsenal host Chelsea at The Emirates Stadium on Sunday (16:00 BST, live on Sky Sports).
Arsenal boast a run of eight consecutive league victories that has propelled them into a secure position inside the top four. They are second in the Premier League with 66 points from 20 wins, six draws and six defeats.
Arsene Wenger’s side reached their second consecutive FA Cup final with a 2-1 victory over Championship side Reading on Saturday. Alexis Sanchez (pictured) put them ahead just before half-time but Reading equalised before the hour and performed well to take the match to extra-time. There, a Sanchez shot squirmed through the goalkeeper’s hands to gift Arsenal victory.
The Gunners have been in excellent form since the turn of the year, winning 17 of their 20 matches in all competitions. Their early exit from the Champions League at the hands of Monaco was clearly a big disappointment but they have been very impressive in the league, with qualification for a 16th consecutive Champions League campaign now all but certain.
Their improvement in 2015 has occurred at both ends of the pitch. They are scoring roughly an extra goal for every two matches they play in comparison to their pre-2015 fixtures, while conceding just over half as many goals per match. An easing injury list and the discovery of Francis Coquelin as a competent defensive midfield option have both played their part.
Wenger will definitely be without the injured Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring) and Mikel Arteta (ankle) for this match, while Per Mertesacker (ankle) is doubtful.
Chelsea make the short trip to North London on the back of a 14-match unbeaten run in all competitions, having won four consecutive league matches. They top the Premier League table with 76 points from 23 wins, seven draws and just two defeats.
Jose Mourinho’s side defended well to record a 1-0 win at home to Manchester United last weekend. The visitors dominated possession and took more shots than the Blues but the overall quality of the chances created by both sides was fairly even. Chelsea took the three points thanks to a clever first-half finish from Eden Hazard following a neat flick from Oscar.
It was a typical performance for a Mourinho side in a big match. While in reality there was little at stake, given that Chelsea could have lost that match and two of their remaining six fixtures and still emerged as champions, the Portuguese coach never likes to lose to a direct rival, particularly when the team in question is coached by someone he used to work under.
Chelsea have taken their foot off the gas a little since the turn of the year but have still continued to grind out enough victories to keep them comfortably atop the league table. Seven of their nine triumphs in 2015 have come by a single goal, in comparison to just 25% of their pre-2015 wins, but there can be little argument they are worthy title winners.
Mourinho has no confirmed injury absentees but strikers Didier Drogba (ankle), Diego Costa (hamstring) and Loic Remy (calf) are all doubtful. Drogba is considered the most likely of the trio to start.
Arsenal v Chelsea Betting Tips
Chelsea were 2-0 winners when these sides met at Stamford Bridge in October and also took four points from the two league fixtures last season. The Blues have won five and drawn two of their last seven matches against the Gunners in all competitions, while Wenger has been unable to mastermind a victory over Mourinho in 12 previous attempts.
Arsenal are in superb form and will be confident of ending their poor recent run of results against the Blues. They have beaten Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United (in the FA Cup) since the turn of the year and will hope to add Chelsea to their list of top-five scalps on Sunday. They have won each of their last nine league matches on home soil.
Chelsea do, however, play a style of football that the Gunners find very difficult to combat, particularly when Mourinho is the architect. The Blues have won their last five away matches in the league and showed at home to United last weekend that they are very good at sitting back and soaking up pressure for long periods of a match.
These two sides drew 0-0 in last season’s equivalent fixture and we expect to see another relatively low-scoring encounter on Sunday. A draw is the most likely result.
- Back the draw @ best odds of 23/10 with Bet365, Betfred or BetVictor.
- Bet on 2-3 goals on the ‘total goals’ market @ best odds of 11/10 with BetVictor.