The end of the season brings a lot of excitement. Teams are competing for the title, for Champions League places and to avoid relegation. The drama is unmatched and it is an absolute treat to watch, but there is a downside to late season football -- lots of players are injured. When you have been playing week in, week out for eight months, the injuries are going to catch up with players.
That is a problem for both Chelsea and Arsenal right now. Players are absent, and with both teams battling for a top-four spot so they can return to the Champions League next season, the injuries are all hugely important.
In fact, they could be the determining factor in who finishes the season where, and Saturday's match between the two London rivals will go a long ways to determining where the two sides finish. The Short Fuse's Ted Hardwood took a look at the injuries on both sides and who Arsene Wenger and Roberto Di Matteo would turn to with certain players absent.
First, the injury news: the big ones are obviously Mikel Arteta being out for Arsenal and Didier Drogba being out for Chelsea. This means that Fernando Torres is going to start at the head of the line for the Blues, while for Arsenal, we will most likely see Aaron Ramsey at attacking midfield in front of a double pivot of Alex Song and Tomas Rosicky. This makes sense, as Aidan Gibson described here the other day, as Rosicky can control the tempo of the match more than Ramsey can, and Ramsey's main strength right now lies in making runs into the opposition's penalty area for chances on goal.
Those are some mighty important players there, but what can the two teams do? Players get hurt. That's the nature of the sport, and that is never more true than at the end of the season. The injuries have added up for both sides, but Champions League places aren't injury dependent. You get your spot based on the points you accrue, injuries or not, so both teams need to get points on Saturday, no matter the injuries.