Four wins from four see Chelsea go into Sunday’s Stamford Bridge clash with Arsenal in buoyant form.
Arsene Wenger’s side have just two wins from their first four games but recovered from a 4-0 hammering to Liverpool with a 3-0 victory over Bournemouth.
Chelsea have had a longer rest from the first European group-stage game, too, as Arsenal took on Cologne in the Europa League on Thursday evening.
The Blues’ crisis talk is already a distant memory, with new signings having arrived and their form improving since a shock opening day defeat to Burnley at home.
Antonio Conte has one main injury worry as Danny Drinkwater wasn’t included in the match day squad for Chelsea’s 6-0 win over Qarabag during the week. He issued a further update about the former Leicester City midfielder’s has a calf injury.
“He had a muscular problem in his calf. I think it’s very difficult to see him before the international break [in October].” He said at a news conference ahead of the match. “He needs time to recover.
“It’s a pity because he was starting to work and to improve his physical condition. Now we have to move all these situations. And in two, three weeks, four weeks, I don’t know.”
Eden Hazard has been gently eased back into Chelsea’s first team after breaking his ankle. Chelsea were happy to let him go away and play with Belgium, where he started against lesser opposition in Gibraltar before coming off the bench to face Greece.
Conte has used Hazard sparingly so far with two further substitute appearances against Leicester and Qarabag, but he might be considering starting him for the first time against Arsenal.
Baba Rahman remains at Chelsea but isn’t part of the club’s Premier League or European squad due to a knee injury. He is expecting to return in late October or early November.
Chelsea have no other absentees but Diego Costa remains away from the first team group as he seeks a transfer to Atletico Madrid. However, he has been included in the squad list for the Premier League this season, so he is technically available for selection.
Gary Cahill returns after a three-match domestic ban for his red card tackle against Burnley on the opening day of the season. Chelsea’s captain returned to face Qarabag on Tuesday.
POTENTIAL STARTING LINE UP
Chelsea’s 3-4-3 remains the club’s primary formation after Conte won the title with the system last season. He has, though, also used a 3-5-2 formation in his away wins against Tottenham and Leicester City.
The Blues appear equally comfortable in both systems and, with seven games during the month of September, Conte will continue to rotate his players as he did against Qarabag.
Chelsea will put out their strongest side against Arsenal while resting players against Nottingham Forest in the midweek Carabao Cup clash. Alvaro Morata has already established himself as Conte’s main striker after Michy Batshuayi started the season with the Spain international on the bench.
The Blues boss does indeed face selection dilemmas, with Hazard improving his fitness by the week, and he will have to leave out either Willian or Pedro to accommodate him. Cahill is back but Antonio Rudiger has been fantastic in his absence and he could opt to leave his captain on the bench.
ARSENAL TEAM NEWS
Francis Coquelin is out for three weeks after suffering a hamstring injury. Santi Cazorla is a long-term injury concern for Arsenal, while Calum Chambers nears his return from injury as he trains for Arsenal’s U23s clash with Leicester on Friday night.
Jack Wilshere is looking to force his way back into Arsenal’s team having returned as a second-half substitute against Cologne. Alexis Sanchez is back after he attempted to move to Manchester City this summer; he came off the bench against Bournemouth and started in Europe on Thursday, and could be ready to start again against Chelsea.
BEST OPTA MATCH FACTS
- The Gunners haven’t kept a Premier League clean sheet at Stamford Bridge in their last 12 visits there, shipping at least twice in each of the eight.
- The Gunners haven’t lost six consecutive away league games versus a single team since a seven-game run versus Liverpool at Anfield between 1981 to 1988.
- Chelsea have scored in 23 successive Premier League games at Stamford Bridge with over half of these (12) seeing them score three or more goals.
- The Blues have had a player sent off in their last two games against Arsenal in all competitions (Victor Moses in the FA Cup final, Pedro in the Community Shield). However, they haven’t had a player sent off against them in a league game since Khalid Boulahrouz in May 2007.
- Eden Hazard has scored in three of his last four Premier League games against Arsenal at home.
TV CHANNEL & KICK OFF TIME
The match kicks off at 13:30 BST on Sunday and it will be broadcast live in the UK on Sky Sports.