Arsene Wenger will consider this fixture one of the most important of the season. The Gunners' record against arch rivals Chelsea may be notoriously poor, even at home, but in a season where anybody seems to have the ability to beat anybody (apart from Villa, obviously) and Arsenal sit top of the league, a win here should be achievable.
Chelsea have drawn four and won one of their last five Premier League fixtures, the sole win being a 3-0 away rout of Crystal Palace on January 3. The Blues played with some verve on that day, and have showed clear signs of improvement under Guus Hiddink.
The team's collective desire to win, which seemed to have left the grounds with Eva Carneiro way back in Summer, now appears somewhat restored. Still, actual victories have proven elusive, and they could easily have been beaten by Everton in a thrilling home game last time out. Ultimately, John Terry's 98th minute equaliser clawed back one point.
In contrast, Arsenal have lost one, drawn two and won two, although their general form is stronger than those results would suggest. They looked comfortable in a 2-0 home defeat of Bournemouth and played a thrilling attacking game against Liverpool which ended in a 3-3 stalemate.
Against Stoke last time out the Gunners lacked a little sharpness, but a point won at the Britannia Stadium is a minor victory in itself. Arsenal sit joint top on points with Leicester City, but with Leicester's attack slightly blunted in recent weeks, Wenger's men have a chance to pull ahead this weekend.
My starting XI for each team is predicted according to fitness, form, and trends from the last several games.
Cech // Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal // Flamini, Ramsey // Campbell, Özil, Walcott // Giroud
Courtois // Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry, Azpilicueta // Mikel, Matic // Willian, Fabregas, Pedro // Costa
Mark Clattenburg is the ref.
In-form playmaker Mesut Özil should return from a minor toe injury, whilst Alexis Sanchez and Francis Coquelin are back in full training. Sanchez will most likely be subbed on, but it might be a touch too soon for le Coq.
Expect Mohamed Elneny to make his Arsenal debut at some point, whilst Oxlade-Chamberlain may also have an opportunity if they find themselves a goal or two up. Gabriel's aerial threat during set pieces and dogged defensive skills could also be pivotal against the blues.
For Chelsea, the recent return to form of Diego Costa, who so often looked slow and dispassionate under Mourinho, will be crucial to getting an early goal and stamping some authority on this match. It's too late for them to mount a European challenge, but victory against Arsenal would make a major statement nonetheless.
Across this season and in recent weeks the stats favour Arsenal. They could come undone with a slow start or if drawn into physical tussles with Diego Costa, but this time around, victory should be theirs.
Arsenal 2 - Chelsea 1