Chelsea v Arsenal preview
Watch Chelsea v Arsenal live on SSHD2 & in 3D this Saturday
By Chris Burton. Last Updated: 28/10/11 4:38pm
Andre Villas-Boas: Chelsea are a formidable proposition at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea have endured an energy-sapping week and will need to dig deep into their reserves when they host capital rivals Arsenal.
The fall-out from the Blues' derby defeat by Queens Park Rangers last weekend continues to rumble on, with the Football Association confirming that it is to investigate allegations that John Terry racially abused Anton Ferdinand.
Andre Villas-Boas' side then took 120 minutes to see off Everton in the Carling Cup on Wednesday, before seeing their efforts to buy the freehold to Stamford Bridge back from the Chelsea Pitch Owners fail.
The Blues can, however, take heart from their impressive form on home soil and will be determined to put in another positive show against fellow challengers for a top-four finish.
Chelsea have taken 31 points from the last 33 available at the Bridge, with their West London home having become something of a fortress.
They have, however, kept just one clean sheet in their last eight fixtures in front of their own supporters.
That statistic gives Arsenal hope, with Arsene Wenger's men making the short trip from North London buoyed by their recent showings.
The Gunners have struggled against Chelsea in the recent past, though, and have won only three of their last 18 matches against the Blues.
Wenger will also need no reminding that his side have failed to win any of their last eight Premier League away matches - their worst run since 1992.
Any chance they have of breaking that sequence on Saturday lunchtime could rest in the hands of talismanic skipper Robin van Persie, with the Dutchman having plundered 25 goals in 26 top-flight outings in 2011.
He has also found the target 11 times in his last 12 games on the road and scored two at Stamford Bridge in November 2008, the last time the Gunners picked up three points at Chelsea.
Villas-Boas will leave it as late as possible before making a decision on Terry's involvement, with the Portuguese yet to decide whether his captain is in the right state of mind to play.
He will, however, be bolstered at the back by the return from suspension of full-backs Ashley Cole and Jose Bosingwa.
Didier Drogba and Ross Turnbull are banned, but Fernando Torres is free to return to domestic action after serving a suspension.
Ramires (knee), Hilario (back) and Michael Essien (knee) all miss out.
Arsenal are hopeful Thomas Vermaelen will be fit to play after shaking off the minor calf problem he picked up in the midweek Carling Cup win over Bolton.
Park Chu-young is pushing for a start after shining against the Trotters, but Carl Jenkinson is a doubt with a knee complaint.
Kieran Gibbs is nursing a stomach muscle problem and will play no part, while Bacary Sagna (broken leg) and Jack Wilshere (ankle) remain long-term absentees.
Possible starting XIs
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Cole, Meireles, Mikel, Lampard, Sturridge, Torres, Mata.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Santos, Walcott, Song, Ramsey, Arteta, Gervinho, Van Persie.
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