Chelsea put an end to a two-match winless streak in all competitions with an uplifting, come-from-behind win away from home over defending Premier League champions Leicester City in the EFL Cup midweek. Now, the Blues look to do the same in the Premier League proper, with a cross-town trip to North London to take on rivals Arsenal.
Despite the horrendous season that was, Chelsea still managed a double over the Gunners last year, taking three points in both meaningful encounters against Arsène Wenger's side after losing the semi-friendly of the Community Shield to start the season.
The first match, a 2-0 win at home, was marred with controversy, with Arsenal defender Gabriel sent off after a lengthy scuffle with Chelsea striker Diego Costa. Costa would later get a retroactive three-game ban for his actions in the game. Costa took center stage in the second meeting as well, drawing a red card-worthy foul from Per Mertesacker early on. Chelsea duly took advantage with a strong 1-0 win, ex-Gunner Cesc Fàbregas providing a masterclass for Chelsea.
Chelsea are currently on a 10-match unbeaten run against Arsenal in the Premier League, with 7 wins and 3 draws since 2011. Extending this run with an 8th win would be most wonderful, especially since Wenger’s celebrating 20 years in charge of the team this weekend. Last time he hit a major milestone (1000th match in charge), Chelsea beat him 6-0.
Date / Time: Saturday, September 24, 2016, 17:30 BST; 12:30pm EDT; 10pm IST
Venue: Emirates Stadium, London, England
Referee: Michael Oliver — Mr. Oliver took charge of no less than five games for Chelsea last season; Chelsea failed to record a single win: four draws (Swansea City, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and Liverpool in the Premier League) and one 2-0 loss (Everton in the FA Cup 6th round).
Forecast: Partly cloudy; fair temperatures
On TV: BT Sport 1, BT Sport 4K UHD (UK); NBCSN, Telemundo (USA); Star Sports 4 / Select HD1 (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: BT Sport Live Streaming (UK); NBC Sports Live Extra, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (USA); Chelsea TV (int’l; radio).
Chelsea team news: There are bad news in the injury department, as Conte announced on Friday that captain John Terry won't be returning from the ankle injury he picked up two weeks ago against Swansea. There’s a bit of good news too, though not of immediate impact, as Kurt Zouma is set to resume full training after spending the last seven months recovering from a torn ACL. The big center back won't be available this Saturday, but is expected to be available for selection after the October international break.
In terms of squad selection, the lineup seems fairly set, though Cesc Fàbregas did reignite the debate over who should start in midfield with his Man of the Match performance in the EFL Cup on Tuesday. While current first-choice midfielders Nemanja Matic and Oscar haven't performed badly, Chelsea's attacking endeavors seem much more cohesive with Fàbregas in the game. At the very least, the Spaniard is a great option to have on the bench, coming in as a super-sub whenever needed.
Arsenal team news: After years of mockery over their woe-be-us attitude regarding their transfer policies, the last few years have seen the Gunners make some quality improvements in the transfer market. Last season’s acquisition of Petr Cech finally gave them a proper goalkeeper, while this summer, they actually brought in a defensive midfielder in howitzer-legged Granit Xhaka and a very good center back in young German international Shkodran Mustafi.
Their luck with injuries hasn't improved in the slightest however. While they might get striker Olivier Giroud back from his toe injury, they will definitely be without Aaron Ramsey, Danny Welbeck and Per Mertesacker.
While Arsenal threatened to start the season once again in a very Arsenal-y way, losing at home to Liverpool 4-3 then dropping two points against Leicester in a scoreless draw, they have improved since then and have collected four wins in domestic competitions, and a credible 1-1 draw away to PSG. Their last match was a 4-0 trouncing of Nottingham Forest for the EFL Cup, with Xhaka scoring a trademark long-range blast, his second in a week.
Previously: 'Maestro' Cesc Fàbregas at the top of his game.