Until last season, Chelsea always beat Arsenal. And Didier Drogba always scored. That was the case when the two sides last met at Stamford Bridge, Alex adding a thumping free-kick to Drogba's early goal. In the return fixture at the Emirates, though, Arsenal were excellent in beating their city rivals 3-1.
In what was Arsenal's best performance of the season, Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott were superb. This time around, though, Fabregas is elsewhere and Walcott may as well be. The Englishman's loss of form has been sudden and dramatic and is, given the precedents set by certainly Tomas Rosicky and debatably Andrei Arshavin, worrying for Arsenal fans: Gervinho will need to have a good game.
Thomas Vermaelan, comfortably Arsenal's best defender, may be fit. Whether he is or not, he won't have to face Drogba (suspended, along with Jose Bosingwa and Ross Turnbull). Given that, and this cannot be stressed enough, he always scores, this is good for Arsenal. His place will be taken, though, by Fernando Torres. Presumably fresh after serving his own ban, the Spaniard looked superb in Chelsea's Champions League thumping of Genk.
While one gets the sense that Arsenal are not a club against whom Chelsea can afford to cede a numerical advantage, it is equally true that no side with seven wins from their last eight has looked so fragile.
Related: English Premier League TV Schedule