The 150th league meeting between these two London heavyweights has taken on an added twist after the Blues’ midweek exertions against Barcelona.
If Chelsea were to go on and win the Champions League, then Arsenal would have to finish third to be assured qualification for next season. This really is a must-win situation for the Gunners.
Arsenal must do without the creativity of the brilliant Basque midfielder, Mikel Arteta, for the rest of the season, due to ankle trouble. The Gunners will also be without Yossi Benayoun due to the terms of his loan agreement from parent club Chelsea.
However, defender Laurent Koscielny will be available again after a two-match ban with Abou Diaby also pushing for a recall from Arsene Wenger.
Two physically tough games against Tottenham Hotspur and Barcelona will have taken their toll and with a trip to the Nou Camp still to come, the Blues’ interim head coach, Roberto Di Matteo, is likely to rotate.
After two huge efforts in the past week, Didier Drogba will most likely be rested, with Fernando Torres ready to take full advantage. Others pushing for a recall include Florent Malouda and Michael Essien, both anxious to reclaim their places in the team. Branislav Ivanovic is suspended.
Arsenal will be confident of a victory as they have won their last two outings against their London rivals and will hope to exploit Chelsea’s exertions in other competitions to their advantage.
However, Chelsea has only lost four of their last 19 games against the Gunners spanning all competitions.
This match could go a long way to determining the European ambitions of both of these clubs but Arsenal will be the more anxious of the two, firstly to bounce back from their shock defeat to Wigan but more importantly, secure Champions League football next season.