We have the opportunity to return to winning ways in the Premier League on Saturday when we face Chelsea at Emirates Stadium, so what are the five key things we need to look out for? Read on to find out...
RACE FOR THE TOP FOUR
Arsenal and Chelsea have been within a few points of one another for much of the season, though defeat this Saturday would see the Blues move nine points clear of us in the race for the top four.
Chelsea got off to a flying start in the league, remaining unbeaten for the first 12 games, but two defeats in December (at Wolves and home to Leicester) saw them slip behind in the title race, and they are now in the driving seat for the final Champions League qualification place, with 16 fixtures remaining.
They have taken 10 points from their past four matches, but are certainly not firing on all cylinders – averaging just one goal per game over their last eight fixtures in all competitions. Furthermore they haven't scored more than twice in a league match since a 3-1 home win against Crystal Palace on November 4.
We have stuttered lately too of course, though victory on Saturday would bring us to within one win of fourth-placed Chelsea. It's also worth noting that we have two more points than this stage last season.
We are playing our third consecutive Premier League London derby this weekend, after beating Fulham on New Year's Day and losing 1-0 to West Ham last weekend.
Overall our form in these fixtures has been impressive recently, in fact we are unbeaten in our last 12 Premier League London derbies at home (nine wins, three draws). In addition we have won the last five in a row – our last home defeat against London opposition in the league was against Chelsea in January 2016.
Some of our biggest wins under Unai Emery have come in derbies – we have scored 20 goals in their seven Premier League London derby matches this season, twice as many as any other side.
However West Ham held us at bay last Saturday, ending our run of 20 consecutive league games where we've found the back of the net. The last time we failed to score in back-to-back games was March last year.
AUBA V HAZARD
Most of the focus will fall on the side's respective top scorers – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Eden Hazard. Ten years ago the two were team mates at Lille in France (during Auba's loan spell there), but this Saturday they carry the hopes of two opposing sides. They are the two players whose goals have been worth the most points for their teams in the Premier League this season – Auba 12, Hazard 10. Aubameyang has been directly involved in 20 goals in 18 Premier League home games for Arsenal (15 goals, five assists) while Hazard has been directly involved in 199 goals in his league career (115 goals, 84 assists), with 2018/19 just the second campaign in which he’s reached double figures for both goals and assists.
Michael Cox of zonalmarking.net explains his role in the Chelsea team this season. "As well as deploying Kante in a new role, Sarri has also angered some supporters by playing Eden Hazard in the central striking position, when the Belgian admits he prefers playing from the flank.
"This tactical decision is because of Morata’s struggles in front of goal, and because Sarri prefers Olivier Giroud as a Plan B, and while Hazard doesn’t like receiving the ball with his back to goal, his ability to turn quickly shouldn’t be underestimated – he did that brilliantly for Willian’s winner against Newcastle."
Cox references Giroud above, and should the striker feature on Saturday, it will be his first appearance at Emirates Stadium since leaving the Gunners 12 months ago.
The France striker signed for the Blues on January transfer deadline day last year, after all five of our matches against Chelsea last term had been played.
He scored five times for his new club last season, and has added five more this term, though only one in the Premier League. He came on for the final 15 minutes of the Stamford Bridge clash in August, but this will be his first game at Emirates since a 1-0 Carabao Cup win over West Ham on December 19. His last goal at the Emirates was earlier that month in a 6-0 win over BATE Borisov. That was his 53rd strike at the venue, during a five-and-a-half year Arsenal career. Only two players have ever scored more goals at the Emirates – Robin van Persie (65) and Theo Walcott (53).
If he finds the net this weekend, he will become the second player to score for both clubs in Premier League meetings between the two, after Cesc Fabregas.
This is our second 5.30pm kick-off at Emirates Stadium this season, the previous one was the enthralling 1-1 draw with Liverpool in November. We have lost just one of our last 11 home games kicking off at this time, that was last season against Manchester United, despite us having 33 shots on goal that evening.
Prior to that though we won nine games in a row, with an aggregate score of 26-4, including a 3-0 win over Chelsea in 2016.
This is our 45th fixture played at Emirates Stadium in the month of January, of the previous 44 we have won 30 (including against Chelsea last January in the Carabao Cup), drawn nine and lost five.
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