In what is one of the biggest domestic derbies in the capital, Arsenal versus Chelsea always gets fans excited. North London versus West London. Red versus Blue. Mourinho against Wenger. For years, Arsenal and Chelsea were total polar opposites in terms of their style and their way of working. Today, though? They are polar opposites in terms of ambition and potential.
The Gunners arrive in the western quadrant of the capital knowing their season is, for all intents and purposes, over. Chelsea arrive knowing a win against their old foe practically ties up UEFA Champions League qualification, setting them up for next season as well as leaving them able to focus on trying to win a cup double.
The Blues have an FA Cup Final to look forward to at the weekend, which might see them change their starting line-up somewhat. However, with UCL football still not guaranteed, Thomas Tuchel might take precious few risks. They might look to give the likes of Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount, whilst giving their rotation options a chance to play in the domestic cup final to arrive at the weekend.
Thiago Silva might also sit this one out, though the loss of Andreas Christensen for this game might mean he has to play at least some part. Tuchel and co. are believed to want to keep as many players as they can fresh for the cup match without having to put their chances of winning the game at needless risk.
The Gunners will be arriving at this game missing three players in Granit Xhaka, David Luiz, and Pablo Mari. All three have played in defence for the most part, leaving Arsenal short on defensive numbers. However, we should see a return to the starting eleven for the likes of Kieran Tierney, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Martin Ødegaard, Hector Bellerin and Thomas Partey.
As five of the most important players for Arsenal, this should bode well for a team that has been lacking in numbers recently. However, expect Alex Lacazette to spend the games beginning on the bench. His recent return from injury means he is unlikely to be fit enough to be able to get back on the pitch without some more training time.
With seven clean sheets in eight home games, Chelsea can feel pretty confident in walking out of here with a win. They will also know they are playing an Arsenal team with nothing to play for but pride. Only one defeat in their last sixteen points to a team in incredibly confident form. The Gunners, though, are undefeated in their five away games. Pair that up with a 10-match unbeaten run at home to Arsenal, though, and this game has all of the hallmarks of an intriguing tie.
Chelsea, though, have more to play for and we can see that desire to secure European football paired with a cup final place to earn giving them the edge in a game that Arsenal, if they were honest, would probably rather avoid.