Dec 23, 2013, 2:30 PM EDT
Heading into last weekend the marquee match-up featuring Arsenal and Chelsea was billed as a clash between first and third place.
Now, it’s a battle between third and fifth place. Funny how that works.
But such is the level of competition in the Premier League, which this past weekend saw Liverpool claim the top spot with a 3-1 home win over Cardiff City, Manchester City vault to second with a 4-2 win over Fulham and Everton move to fourth following their 2-1 victory at Swansea City.
Which brings us back to Chelsea at Arsenal (live coverage on NBCSN begins at 2:00 pm ET and online at NBC Sports Live Extra), a match where the Gunners will be looking to regain top spot in the league with a victory over Chelsea. But while a win will move Arsene Wenger‘s side to first place, defeat would drop them to fourth with Chelsea moving level on points with Liverpool.
Arsenal enter the match in a difficult run of form, having failed to win in their last three matches. Those matches, however, were against Everton, away at Napoli and away at Manchester City, however, so some slack should be given. But now it’s time to get back on track and no better way than knocking off London rivals, Chelsea.
The Blues come into the game on the end of an unimpressive string of results, having lost 1-2 to Sunderland in the League Cup following up on their slim 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace in the league. The week prior, Chelsea were subject to a shock 2-3 loss at the hands of Stoke City following two league victories over Sunderland and Southampton.
With both clubs trying to regroup and find their best form, expect both to take the match by the scruff of the neck.
Arsenal will be without Jack Wilshere, who is serving the first of a two-match ban, and Laurent Koscielny who remains out with the gashed knee suffered against City. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Abou Diaby are long-term absentees while Lukas Podolski makes his return from a hamstring problem.
Chelsea have no fresh injury concerns although Ashley Cole is unlikely to feature following his decision to attend the Arsenal holiday party, much to the ire of Mourinho.
Arsenal – Szczesny; Gibbs, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Sagna; Arteta, Ramsey, Rosicky, Ozil, Walcott; Giroud.
Bench – Fabianski, Flamini, Cazorla, Podolski, Bendtner, Jenkinson, Monreal
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