Chelsea will look to strengthen their position in the top four Saturday’s late kick off away to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
Maurizio Sarri will take his side across London knowing that a win will open up a nine-point gap between themselves and their opponents, but will be fully aware of a resurgent Manchester United maintaining a top four challenge under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Chelsea will want to improve on an unconvincing 2-1 win over Newcastle and with the second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final on Thursday, two wins from their next two games could make this a season-defining week for Sarri.
1. Goalkeeper and Defenders
Kepa Arrizabalaga (GK) – The 24-year-old is quietly continuing to impress in his debut season for the Blues. Kepa may not grab the headlines like David de Gea or Alisson Becker, but those who watch him know that Chelsea’s keeper is proving his worth.
Cesar Azpilicueta (RB) – The ever-reliable Azpilicueta is yet to miss a minute of Premier League action this season. He has been on captain duty all season and once Gary Cahill departs, he is sure to take the armband permanently.
Antonio Rudiger (CB) – One of Chelsea’s standout performers this season. He will be forced to use his impressive speed against Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
David Luiz (CB) – A leader on the pitch, Luiz is one of the few players in the team who can unlock defences. Assisting N’Golo Kante and Pedro Rodriguez with beautiful balls over the top in recent weeks, his passing could be key if Jorginho is nullified.
Marcos Alonso (LB) – The 28-year-old has a great record against Arsenal, scoring in three of the last four league meetings. But by all accounts, Alonso has been poor this season and hasn’t scored since August (against Arsenal).
Jorginho (DM) – The focal point of Sarri’s system, another who has underperformed recently as teams work out how to neutralise his passing. He found himself in trouble against Newcastle and will need to improve quickly.
N’Golo Kante (CM) – Chelsea’s most consistent performer and he is only getting better. Now adding goals to his game, his runs between the full-back and centre-back are becoming an effective weapon going forward.
Mateo Kovacic (CM) – A confusing player who seems to be preferred to Ross Barkley for the big games. Neat and tidy in possession, but Kovacic must start contributing to goals.
Pedro (RW) – A goalscorer last weekend, Pedro’s movement will cause Arsenal problems and he continues to be one of the deadliest finishers in Europe. The Spaniard has missed zero ‘big chances’ this season.
Willian (LW) – Amid interest from Barcelona, his wonderful finish against Newcastle will most likely keep him in the side this weekend ahead of Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Eden Hazard (ST) – Chelsea will be hoping to finalise a deal for Juventus’ Gonzalo Higuain before the weekend, but Hazard is still expected to lead the line in the false nine role. His assist last weekend moved him into double figures for both goals and assists this season.