In Review

Arsenal vs Chelsea: are the omens good for the Gunners?

After eight hours without a league goal against their London rivals, Wenger's side should finally get one over their bogey team

League leaders Arsenal face reigning champions Chelsea in the biggest game of the weekend - and the Gunners may never get a better chance to shake the monkey-in-a-blue-shirt off their backs.

It is more than four years since Arsenal last beat their London rivals in the league, while their record against the Blues since they last won the title in 2004 reads: P28, W5, D7, L16.

Chelsea do appear to have some hold over them, notes Goal.com. Arsenal have not scored against them in the league for eight hours, while Blues manager Guus Hiddink masterminded the Gunners' worst ever defeat at the Emirates during his last spell at Chelsea, when his side embarrassed Arsenal with a 4-1 win in 2009.

But this term, it is Arsenal who are in the ascendency. Arsene Wenger recorded his first ever win over former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho in the Community Shield at the start of the season and although Chelsea got revenge at Stamford Bridge, the Blues remain in the bottom half of the table, 19 points behind the league leaders.

The game could be "significant" for the Gunners' title hopes, says Mark Lawrenson of the BBC, and the omens are good.

Wenger has his two most potent attacking weapons, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, back at his disposal after injury, while Chelsea have injury concerns over striker Diego Costa, who has a bruised shinbone.

It was Costa who orchestrated Chelsea's bad-tempered victory earlier in the season with a display of such feral aggression that it led to Arsenal defender Gabriel being sent off and subsequently earned the Chelsea forward a three-match ban.

If he does play, it will certainly raise the temperature at the Emirates and Wenger has warned his players to be "prepared for a battle".

The pressure will be on the home side, says Eurosport. "For Arsenal, it's a must-win game. All too often, they play out a cagy 0-0 against big opposition and rue it later in the season," says the website. "Better to gamble a point for a 50-50 shot at all three, rather than dispirit their fans with a negative performance. City are slowly entering 'title push' mode; Arsenal must follow suit on Sunday."

However, most pundits expect the Gunners to succeed. ESPN predicts a 2-0 win, while Lawrenson of the BBC foresees a 2-1 victory. Even the usually contrary Paul Merson of Sky Sports concurs, forecasting a 3-1 triumph.

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