For the second Saturday running it is the 5.30pm slot for Maurizio Sarri’s men. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton are ready for the Blues’ chance to do a derby double…
It is west versus north across the capital this weekend, with Spurs’ trip to Fulham on Sunday offering Chelsea the chance to ease two points clear of the Lilywhites first by beating their north London rivals at Emirates the evening before.
The Blues, boasting the third-best away record in the league, will be taking on the Premier League’s third-best home-soil side. For Maurizio Sarri’s men, who have won the last three on the road, it is the first league match away from the Bridge in 2019. Four would be nice, and success on Saturday night would complete the league double over the north Londoners for the fifth time in 13 years.
The Emirates has been relatively a happy hunting ground – no visiting club can lay claim to as many victories there as the west Londoners’ five. Some of those are included in the current run of one defeat in 14 league games against the Gunners, which includes eight victories and five draws. Only Liverpool and Manchester United have beaten Arsenal more times in the Premier League era. Highlights of one of our best victories are below:
The Gunners fell to back-to-back away defeats with last weekend’s loss at West Ham, but home comforts served them better over Christmas and New Year with emphatic wins against Burnley and Fulham. Everything is poised for a match of immense importance in the race for the top-four places.
Chelsea have conceded 17 goals in the Premier League this season – 15 fewer than Arsenal’s 32.
— Key stat
Maurizio Sarri’s men are unbeaten in four league games having lost three of the previous six. Arsenal have not won in five Premier League games on the road, but at home they are undefeated in 10.
Helpfully, last weekend’s results stretched the Blues’ points advantage over the Gunners to six, the most since mid-September. The west Londoners have stayed ahead of Unai Emery’s team throughout the campaign, though the gap has varied from goal difference alone to four points in early November.
The two clubs were on level-pegging again as recently as Christmas Eve, however, and a win, sending Sarri’s side nine clear of the north Londoners, would be a sizeable psychological blow in the battle for Champions League places.
The fixtures list meant four of the other five teams in the current top six visited Stamford Bridge over the first half of the campaign. Only Tottenham are yet to come to SW6, and this is the first of several potentially decisive challenges on the road from now until May.
CHELSEA AWAY MATCHES AGAINST TOP 6
Arsenal 19 January
Man City 10 February
Liverpool 12 April*
Man United 26 April*
*Subject to change for TV coverage.
When Eden Hazard passed to Willian for his winner against Newcastle, it made it double figures in assists as well as goals for the Belgian after 22 league matches. He is the quickest to do so since recently departed Blue Cesc Fabregas in 2009/10, when he was playing for this weekend’s host.
The Belgian’s league goals have been worth 10 points to his side this season, while those of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have earned 12 for Arsenal, the most in the Premier League this season.
Premier League top-scorers
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) 14
Harry Kane (Tottenham) 14
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) 14
Eden Hazard (Chelsea) 10
Sergio Aguero (Man City) 10
Richarlison (Everton) 9
Raheem Sterling (Man City) 9
Calum Wilson (Bournemouth) 9
Last weekend David De Gea kept our Carabao Cup semi-final foes and top-four rivals Tottenham at bay with 14 saves in Man United’s league win last weekend, equalling the record of Tim Krul (for Newcastle against Spurs again in 2013) that was matched by Sunderland’s Vito Mannone, who frustrated Chelsea in a 1-2 loss for the Blues in April 2014.
Chelsea’s next Premier League hosts Bournemouth, who have taken one point from their last possible 12, are at home this weekend to Arsenal’s recent conquerors, West Ham.
The one-off Continental Tyres League Cup semi-final against Man City will take place at Kingsmeadow on Wednesday 6 February, kick-off 7.30pm. Click for tickets. The winners face either Arsenal or Man United in the final on 23 February.
The Under-18s’ next league action is also away to Arsenal, one place and three points ahead in the table. The 11am start on Saturday 2 February is at their training centre in London Colney.
Chelsea legend and current Gunners goalkeeper Petr Cech has announced his stellar playing career will draw to a close at the end of this season. Everyone at the club wishes him the very best in the future and thanks him for his fantastic, trophy-laden service in royal blue.
A quick word on the January transfer window: players arriving must be cleared and registered as a new club’s player by midday the day before a round of matches in the Premier League. Since there is no Friday night fixture, the deadline for this weekend is Friday 12 noon.
THE BEST THAT CAN HAPPEN THIS WEEKEND…
Six becomes nine.
Premier League fixtures
Wolves v Leicester 12.30 - Sky Sports
Bournemouth v West Ham 3pm
Liverpool v Crystal Palace 3pm
Manchester United v Brighton 3pm
Newcastle v Cardiff 3pm
Southampton v Everton 3pm
Watford v Burnley 3pm
Arsenal v Chelsea 5.30pm - BT Sport
Huddersfield v Manchester City 1.30pm - Sky Sports
Fulham v Tottenham 4pm - Sky Sports