The final top-flight game before Christmas pits the capital's highest-placed clubs against each other. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton look in detail at the seasonal summit meeting…

So Sunderland summoned their age-old cup hex over the Blues and everyone at Chelsea has midweek diary dates free in January as a result. Most sympathy lies with those fans arriving back in London at 4.30am afterwards. On Monday the players will be aiming to be more efficient in every department at the Emirates to replicate the fine result and performance that dumped Arsenal out a round earlier.

It has not exactly been a great few weeks for the Premier League leaders, who have taken one point from the last possible six in the Barclays Premier League, shipped half a dozen against Manchester City, and finished second in their Champions League group, eventually being paired with the might of defending champions Bayern Munich.

Chelsea are unbeaten in our last three visits to the Emirates, one short of the sequence between 2004 and 2007. From 1959 to 1965 we managed to avoid defeat at Arsenal seven times in succession. The Gunners are looking to avoid three successive defeats for the first time since April 2010 when they lost to Barcelona, Tottenham and Wigan.

Arsenal have won four of the last 24 meetings with Chelsea in all competitions over the last nine years. 

By the time this match kicks off, Liverpool may have gone top with a Saturday lunchtime win over Cardiff City. Chelsea would require the Scousers to drop points in order to lead the table at Christmas, even with another win in north London.

When asked the importance of hitting top spot at this time of year Jose Mourinho told reporters it is not 'crucial' and predicted the title race will end with a dive for the tape.

How indicative of success in May has leading the pack on 25 December been historically? Since 2003/04 seven of the 10 clubs in pole position have finished the season champions. The three who failed were Manchester United in 2003/04, Liverpool in 2008/09 and Arsenal in 2007/08.

The north Londoners' recent travails mean questions are re-emerging about their aptitude against the better sides and the viability of their relatively shallow squad: from the ecstasy of looking like ending the eight-year drought, to 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Gunners working overtime.

Arsene Wenger complained his side were fatigued after the 3-6 beating at Manchester City, but his players will be fresher than some of Chelsea's as a result of our comfortable 2-0 Capital One Cup win at Emirates a few weeks back - Arsenal have had a free week to rest and prepare.

Following their draw with Everton a fortnight ago Arsenal have dropped more points on home soil than the Blues. The Gunners have the worst home record of the top four sides, with fewest victories and lowest goal difference.

This match also sees the personal battle between Mourinho and Wenger rejoined; after nine meetings the Alsatian has yet to sink his teeth into the Special One.

Wenger and Mourinho

Barclays Premier League fixtures
Liverpool v Cardiff 12.45pm - BT Sport
Crystal Palace v Newcastle 3pm
Fulham v Manchester City 3pm
Manchester United v West Ham 3pm
Stoke v Aston Villa 3pm
Sunderland v Norwich 3pm
West Brom v Hull 3pm
Southampton v Tottenham 1.30pm - Sky Sports
Swansea v Everton 4pm - Sky Sports
Arsenal v Chelsea 8pm - Sky Sports


Barclays Premier League top eight
Top Pld Gd Pts
1 Arsenal 16 +16 35
2 Liverpool 16 +21 33
3 Chelsea 16 +14 33
4 Man City 16 +29 32
5 Everton 16 +12 31
6 Newcastle 16 -1 27
7 Tottenham 16 -6 27
8 Man United 16 +6 25


Premier London League
Pld Gd Pts
1 Chelsea 4 +6 10
2 Arsenal 3 +5 9
3 Tottenham 5 -2 7
4 West Ham 4 +2 6
5 Fulham 5 -5 3
6 C Palace 5 -6 3


Top eight mini-league *
Top Pld Gd Pts
1 Man City 6 +17 15
2 Everton 7 +1 12
3 Newcastle 6  -1 10
4 Liverpool 5 +4 8
5 Arsenal 5 -1 7
6 Chelsea 5 -2 5
7 Man Utd 7 -5 5
8 Tottenham 7 -13 3
* Points earned from games between the current top eight teams

Chelsea are undefeated in the last eight Barclays Premier League London derbies, comprising six wins and two draws.

Chelsea have gained 11 points from losing positions this season, the best record in the Premier League.

We have kept one clean sheet in our last 11 Premier League games.

The Blues have an identical record compared to the corresponding 16 fixtures last season.

We have won 11 points from a possible 24 away from Stamford Bridge this term.

Chelsea have trailed in five of our last seven league games, four of which have eventually been won.

Last six results
Dec 1 Southampton (h) W 3-1
Dec 4 Sunderland (a) W 4-3
Dec 7 Stoke (a) L 2-3
Dec 11 Steaua Bucharest (Champions League h) W 1-0
Dec 14 Crystal Palace (h) W 2-1
Dec 17 Sunderland (Capital One Cup a) L 1-2 aet


Premier League scorers (32)
Hazard 6 (1 pen), Oscar 5, Lampard 4 (1 pen), Schurrle 3, Eto'o 2, Terry 2, Torres 2, Ba 1, Cahill 1, Ivanovic 1, Mikel 1, Ramires 1, Willian 1, own goals 2

League games since
An away win: 1
An away draw: 5
An away defeat: 0

Chelsea's next three games
Thu 26 Dec Swansea City home 3.00pm
Sun 29 Dec Liverpool home 4.00pm
Wed 1 Jan Southampton away 3.00pm


Frank Lampard's next converted penalty will be his 50th for the Blues.


Major trophies
13 League championships, last in 2004
10 FA Cups, last in 2005
2 League Cups, last in 1993
12 FA Charity/Community Shields (1 shared), last in 2004
1 European Cup Winners' Cup in 1994
1 Fairs Cup in 1970

Last season
Premier League - Fourth
FA Cup - Fifth round
Capital One Cup - Quarter-final
Champions League - Round of 16

Arsenal have won 19 points from a possible 24 at the Emirates this term. Since their only home defeat on the opening day against Aston Villa they have won six against Tottenham, Stoke, Norwich, Liverpool, Southampton and Hull and drew their last game to Everton.

Man Utd are the only team Arsenal have failed to score against in the league this term when David Moyes's team won by the only goal at Old Trafford in November.

The Gunners have conceded three league goals in the last 10 ½ hours at the Emirates.

They have opened the scoring in 13 of their 16 Premier League games and gone on to win 11 of them.

Arsenal have gained only one point from losing positions this term.

Manager Arsene Wenger
Days in charge: 6,293
Played: 980
Won: 560
Drawn: 231
Lost: 189

Arsenal's last 10 year league history
Pts Pos
2003/04 90 1st
2004/05 83 2nd
2005/06 67 4th
2006/07 68 4th
2007/08 83 3rd
2008/09 72 4th
2009/10 75 3rd
2010/11 68 4th
2011/12 70 3rd
2012/13 73 4th

Last six results
Nov 26 Marseille (Champions League h) W 2-0
Nov 30 Cardiff (a) W 3-0
Dec 4 Hull (h) W 2-0
Dec 8 Everton (h) D 1-1
Dec 11 Napoli (Champions League a) L 0-2
Dec 14 Man City (a) L 3-6

Premier League scorers (33)
Ramsey 8, Giroud 7 (1 pen), Ozil 4, Mertesacker 2, Podolski 2, Walcott 2, Wilshere 2, Arteta 1 (pen), Bendtner 1, Cazorla 1, Flamini 1, Gnabry 1, Sagna 1.


League games since
A home win: 1
A home draw: 0
A home defeat: 7

Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid, £42.5m), Mathieu Flamini (AC Milan, free), Yaya Sanogo (Auxerre, loan), Emiliano Viviano (Palermo, loan).
Outs Andrey Arshavin (Zenit St Petersburg, free), Denilson (Sao Paulo, free), Francis Coquelin (Freiburg, loan), Vito Mannone (Sunderland, £1.5m), Sebastien Squillaci (Bastia, free), Andre Santos (Flamengo, undisclosed), Gervinho (Roma, £8m), Marouane Chamakh (Crystal Palace, undisclosed), Johan Djourou (Hamburg, loan)

Mike Dean is the official for his second Chelsea match this term. He was the referee for our 1-1 draw with Tottenham at White Hart Lane in September.

Michael Essien (one match) and Arsenal's Jack Wilshere (two matches) are suspended.

David Luiz is one domestic booking away from a suspension having received four yellow cards this season.

Visit again on Monday for Part Two of the Briefing. 

 - All six Chelsea Christmas wallpaper designs are now available to download.