Arsenal v Chelsea Preview: Blues U21 striker to start?

Chelsea has an opportunity to go within three points of sealing the Premier League title when they visit Arsenal at the Emirates on Sunda...

Chelsea has an opportunity to go within three points of sealing the Premier League title when they visit Arsenal at the Emirates on Sunday afternoon.

Victory for the Blues would see them needing only a single win to clinch their first league trophy since 2010.

Form is certainly on the Gunners’ side, who are playing their best football of the entire campaign. Our hosts for the first versus third clash have scored 20 goals and conceded just six during their last nine outings in all competitions, including a comprehensive 4-1 victory over Liverpool earlier in the month.

Chelsea has not won a Premier League match by more than a single goal since midway through January, whereas Arsenal is chasing its 10th consecutive league victory.

The Blues back four will need to be switched on around Olivier Giroud, who is looking to build on his impressive record of 10 goals in his last 12 matches.

Even with the title race virtually over, the Mourinho-Wenger rivalry provides an entertaining subplot to the broader context. Although the Portuguese has never lost to the Gunners boss with seven wins and five draws in all competitions, Wenger today has a genuine chance of tainting that emphatic record.

In contrast to his opposite number, Mourinho faces a selection headache in attack with Diego Costa, Loïc Remy and Didier Drogba all unlikely to be in peak condition for the short trip to north London.

Should all three fail to make the starting eleven, Blues Under-21 striker Dominic Solanke could earn his first senior start having made the bench against Crystal Palace and Manchester United, and played 20 minutes in the 6-0 win over Maribor this season.

Arsenal Form

(W) Reading 1-2 Arsenal
(W) Burnley 0-1 Arsenal
(W) Arsenal 4-1 Liverpool
(W) Newcastle United 1-2 Arsenal
(W) Monaco 0-2 (agg 3-3) Arsenal

Chelsea Form

(W) Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United
(W) Queens Park Rangers 0-1 Chelsea
(W) Chelsea 2-1 Stoke
(W) Hull City 2-3 Chelsea
(D) Chelsea 1-1 Southampton

Last Five Meetings

Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal, League, October 2014
Chelsea 6-0 Arsenal, League, March 2014
Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea, League, December 2013
Arsenal 0-2 Chelsea, Capital One Cup, October 2013
Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal, League, January 2013

Arsenal Team News

Per Mertesacker: The towering German is a doubt having limped off the pitch with an ankle problem against Reading in the FA Cup last weekend.

Mikel Arteta: An ankle injury will keep the midfielder sidelined for this heavyweight clash. He is expected to return come 2 May.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remains unavailable due to a groin injury that has kept him out since the Gunners’ 2-1 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford on 9 March.

Chelsea Team News

Dominic Solanke: Reports claim Mourinho may hand the striker his first start for the senior team. The 17-year-old, who has bagged 19 goals for the academy side this term, was rested for the match against Everton on Thursday evening, and inviting suggestions he could play a part at the Emirates.
“He played against Maribor. He was on the bench against Crystal Palace, against Manchester United, and probably he will be on the bench against Arsenal. For a kid who is an Under-18, his experiences this season have been magnificent,” said Mourinho.
Diego Costa: Our top goalscorer is still not 100%, but reports indicate he could feature against the Gunners. Mourinho will wait until the last minute to make a decision about the striker’s hamstring.

Loïc Remy: The Frenchman is once again ruled out due to the calf injury that saw him miss the 1-0 win against Manchester United last weekend.

Probable Lineups

Arsenal: Ospina, Monreal, Koscielny, Gabriel, Bellerin, Coquelin, Cazorla, Ramsey, Özil, Sanchez, Giroud

Chelsea: Courtois, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Matic, Zouma, Willian, Fabregas, Oscar, Drogba

Score Prediction

It would be a dream to go within touching distance of the Premier League title with another 6-0 over the Gunners, but with the home side in such good nick, it will be a far more difficult contest this time around.

Our lack of options up forward could pose a serious problem, particularly as Arsenal will likely dominate possession. We might be able to steal a goal or two on the break, so I see this one ending in a draw: 2-2.

What are your score predictions?

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