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
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-
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
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.