Arsenal and Chelsea are set to do battle in round six of the Premier League this weekend and there is plenty on the line for both clubs in what is expected to be an epic encounter.
The Emirates in North London will be the venue for this meeting and managers, players and fans alike will be desperate to be on the winning side for a number of different reasons.
These two clubs share a rich history that is full of all sorts of twists, tales and tension but the latest chapter that will play out on the weekend seems to have a bit more than usual weighing on it.
Here we take a look at exactly what is at stake when Chelsea travel to Arsenal.
It’s a six-pointer
The primary plot here is that three valuable points are at stake for two teams who both sit on 10 points from five games in the league. Forget everything else, the mere log positions of Arsenal and Chelsea mean this is a hugely significant fixture, even this early in the season.
Three points for the winner means that the loser is denied three points. For two teams who have every intention of lifting the Premier League trophy come the end of the season, this is essentially a six-pointer. The league champions are often decided by how they fare against their biggest challengers.
Bragging rights in the Big Smoke
Arsenal are based in North London, Chelsea are based in West London, this is the biggest derby in the English capital when comparing the surrounding clubs by Premier League titles won.
Since the Premier League started in 1992 Arsenal (three times) and Chelsea (four times) are the only clubs in the Big Smoke to have won the league.
Winning on Saturday gives fans significant bragging rights until the clubs meet again and also the opportunity to post Tweets like this…
When John Obi Mikel gets home tonight and empties his pockets:
Mesut Ozil ? pic.twitter.com/yJDzne7U75
— Chelsea Transfers (@CFCTransfers) January 24, 2016
Pressure release for the victorious manager
Manchester City have made an impressive start to the new Premier League season and are at the summit of the standings with a perfect 15 points from five games.
Arsene Wenger and Antonio Conte are expected to challenge for silverware but after a faulty start, both managers are now under pressure.
In Conte’s first major test in the league since he lost to Liverpool. That was followed up with a below-par performance against Leicester City in the League Cup where the Blues had to recover from a two-goal deficit to progress.
While Wenger’s group are now undefeated in six games in all competitions, the Frenchman is always only one bad result away from heavy criticism from Gunners fans – many resent him as he has failed to win the Premier League since the 2003/2004 season.
A win against the arch enemy would go along way to buying both Conte and Wenger a bit of comfort. A loss will have the opposite effect.
Cesc Fabregas vs Petr Cech
Since 1896, 27 players have represented both London clubs. Arsenal legends like Emmanuel Petit, Nicolas Anelka and Ashley Cole spent the latter parts of their careers at Chelsea while Blues legends like Colin Pates and William Gallas did the reverse. On Saturday the derby will feature two players who have played for both clubs.
Cech manned Chelsea’s goal between 2004 and 2015 during which time he made 486 official appearances for the club, putting him sixth in its all-time appearances list. He also won four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three Football League Cups, one UEFA Europa League and one UEFA Champions League. Cech kept a club record 220 clean sheets for Chelsea in all competitions. He now plays for Arsenal.
Fabregas was signed by Arsenal at 16-years-of-age. Following injuries to key midfielders in the early part of the 2004/2005 season, he went on establish himself in the team. He broke several of the club’s records in the process, earning a reputation as one of the best players in his position, and won the FA Cup in 2005. He donned the red of Arsenal 212 times, scoring 35 goals. He now plays for Chelsea.
Both players will be out to justify their respective career choices, although Fabregas will more than likely have to make his impact from the bench.
Regular starting spots up for grabs
Arsenal and Chelsea’s starting XI’s are from settled. In the melting pot that is a London derby, those who get to play will have the opportunity to nail down positions for the rest of the season. Delivering in the big games is what managers look for.
Arsenal have a dilemma in the central midfield where Francis Coquelin, Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny are competing for one position alongside Santi Cazorla. Up front, there is also only space for one of Lucas Pérez, Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sánchez.
Chelsea’s biggest headache is the midfield pairing that will play in front of N’Golo Kanté this year. Fabregas, Nemanja Matic and Oscar are all worthy candidates for that role. There is only room for two of the three though.
Whoever of the aforementioned players gets the green light will need to perform and be a part of a winning team if they want to secure regular first team football for the rest of the season.
Article by Zac Elkin
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