Arsenal v Chelsea preview: Wenger seeks end to his Blues hoodoo
By Andrew Dickson and Tom Bennett
Last Updated: 24/09/16 5:39pm
In the week Arsene Wenger celebrates 20 years since being named as Arsenal's manager, he comes up against the team he has had one of his biggest rivalries with in Chelsea.
The Frenchman will hope to mark the occasion with a win but his side have failed to do that in any of their last nine Premier League meetings with the Stamford Bridge outfit.
Indeed, Arsenal have also failed to score in their last six league matches against Chelsea but victory here would give them a fourth successive league win for the first time since last October.
Out to stop him will be Antonio Conte, who is looking to avoid going three league games without a win for the first time since he had four consecutive draws with Juventus in March 2012.
Arsene Wenger will recall a host of first-team regulars for Saturday's Premier League clash at home to Chelsea.
The Gunners boss made 11 changes for Tuesday night's EFL Cup win at Nottingham Forest, but the likes of Petr Cech, Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez will return at the Emirates Stadium.
Olivier Giroud (toe) faces a late fitness test, while Aaron Ramsey (hamstring), Per Mertesacker, Danny Welbeck and Carl Jenkinson (all knee) are out.
Chelsea will remain without the injured John Terry. The captain and central defender suffered an ankle injury in the recent 2-2 draw with Swansea but, despite optimism that he would, he has not recovered on time.
It is hoped he and fellow central defender Kurt Zouma, who injured his anterior cruciate ligaments, will soon return to training.
Beyond them manager Conte has a fully-fit squad from which to choose, and must decide whether or not to retain Cesc Fabregas against his former team after his two goals at Leicester.
Arsenal's run of games without a win against Chelsea isn't their worst against a Premier League opponent. They went 12 games without beating Liverpool in the league between 1994 and 2000.
Chelsea haven't lost any of their last five league visits to the Emirates (W2 D3) since a 3-1 defeat in December 2010. They've conceded just one goal in that run.
Chelsea have won more league games at the Emirates Stadium than any other side (4) and this will be Wenger's 55th game against Chelsea as Arsenal manager - he's only faced Manchester United more with the Gunners (56).
Antonio Conte will be the 12th Chelsea boss Wenger has faced in the Premier League, more than any other club. The Italian hasn't lost consecutive league games since December 2009 while at Atalanta.
The Gunners are winless in five London derbies in the league played at home - they last went six without a win on home soil in October 1974.
Arsenal are winless in their last eight Premier League games in which Saturday's referee Michael Oliver was officiating (D5 L3), while Chelsea are unbeaten in 13 with Oliver in charge (W7 D6).
Arsenal have had four players sent off in their last five Premier League meetings with Chelsea and have been given more red cards against them than versus any other opponent (7).
"This is a huge match, especially with Manchester City playing at 3pm because whoever slips up will probably be even further behind the league leaders.
"I give the slight advantage to Arsenal because they're at home. It is one of those situations where come 7pm on Saturday night, you will know what kind of season Arsenal will have.
"They are flat-track bullies but they don't really turn it on against the big teams. If they don't win this, they are set up for another season of challenging for third or fourth.
"They could be eight points off the top if they lose and City win. Do you see City losing three games without Arsenal also slipping up?
"For me, Cesc Fabregas has to play. N'Golo Kante will cover every blade of grass but you need to someone to get on the ball and pass it. Fabregas is among the best in the Premier League in possession."
Paul predicts: 2-1 (Sky Bet odds 10/1)
Arsenal are Sky Bet's 7/5 favourites for the victory, with visitors Chelsea 9/5 while the draw is priced at 5/2.
However, it is the away side who are shorter odds in the Premier League outright betting at 8/1 to their hosts' price of 11/1.
Diego Costa heads the first goalscorer betting at 5/1, the same odds as he is to be the Premier League's top goalscorer.
Olivier Giroud, meanwhile, is still considered the Gunners' main threat at 11/2 despite Lucas Perez's (13/2) midweek brace.
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