How Chelsea Will Line Up Against Arsenal in Premier League Derby

Rowanne WesthenryFeatured ColumnistDecember 21, 2013

(FILE PHOTO - EDITORS NOTE: COMPOSITE OF TWO IMAGES - Image Numbers 177996036 (L) and 452339145) In this composite image a comparison has been made between Chelsea Manager Jose Mourinho (L) and Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger. The Premier League match between Arsenal and Chelsea takes place on December 23, 2013 at the Emirates Stadium, London, England. ***LEFT IMAGE*** MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Chelsea Manager Jose Mourinho looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images) ***RIGHT IMAGE*** LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26: Manager Arsene Wenger of Arsenal looks on during the UEFA Champions League Group F match between Arsenal and Olympique de Marseille at Emirates Stadium on November 26, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
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Chelsea will travel to the Emirates knowing that a win over London rivals Arsenal would put them level on points with Liverpool at the top of the Premier League for Christmas.

The Blues dropped out of the Capital One Cup on Tuesday following a disappointing defeat at the hands of Sunderland, and Jose Mourinho will be looking for an improved performance from his side.

Having dubbed himself ‘The Happy One’ on his return to Stamford Bridge this summer, Mourinho's countenance has soured since then.

Inconsistency has been the theme at Chelsea this season as he tries to balance a squad which boasts plenty of world class talent, with mixed results.

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04: Cesar Azpilicueta of Chelsea in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Chelsea at the Stadium of Light on December 4, 2013 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Paul Thomas/Getty Images)
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Cesar Azpilicueta has been amongst the stand out performers so far. Despite playing out of position at left-back, the Spaniard has excelled and will start on Monday in place of Ashley Cole.

The former Arsenal man was photographed attending the Gunners’ Christmas party this week, and when Mourinho was asked for his opinion on this bizarre incident he had this to say (per The Independent)

I have my opinion but I keep it for myself, it was a free day for them, so I am not a father. I am a manager. I cannot control what they do when they are not with me. I do not want to comment. I have my opinion, but I keep it to myself. I have not even given my opinion to Ashley Cole because I do not have to. It was his free day, his free night. The next morning we did not train. We only trained in the afternoon, so I have no right to make to a comment. I won’t. I just have my opinion.

Branislav Ivanovic will return from suspension to start at right-back, while Mourinho is still debating who will partner John Terry at the heart of the defence.

David Luiz's return has yielded mixed results, but he is still finding his feet after an extended spell on the sidelines. Gary Cahill has recovered from the niggling pain in his quadriceps, but with the attacking threat posed by Arsenal, Luiz's confidence in closing down players should see him start.

Ramires has been one of the first names on the team sheet this season due to his immense stamina and ability to read the game.

John Obi Mikel should start alongside him to provide cover for the back four, with Frank Lampard ready to come on as a game changing substitute.

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Oscar will likely return to the side to pull the strings in midfield, while Juan Mata's performance in the Blues’ last encounter with Arsenal should see him start this one. Although Willian has been playing well in recent weeks, it would be surprising to see anyone but Eden hazard start on the left of the attack.

Mourinho has been bewildered by the lack of goals scored by his strikers this season, per the Daily Mail.

Some strikers, they are players with fantastic individual qualities and can by themselves do what their team not able to do. Our strikers do not have this kind of quality or potential. I'm not criticising them, because they do other jobs. The number of goals is quite frustrating, for them as much as me, but the contribution is good. The other guys (Aguero and Suarez) play their strengths and have super individual qualities: dribble, shots, sharp movement. They resolve problems. We don't have this kind of striker and need them to do a different type of work. Do I expect more? Yes. Do we need more? Yes. But we can't expect Demba or Fernando to get the ball like Sergio Aguero or Luis Suarez, dribble past three and score.

Samuel Eto'o has lost the sharpness he was beginning to show before he was sidelined with a hamstring injury. Demba Ba has a lot of work to do to improve basic aspects of his game, but his strength and pace could see him join the game from the bench.

Fernando Torres will likely be given the nod up front as Mourinho looks to continue his mission to return the striker to form.

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The players will be aware of Mourinho's displeasure with their lack of consistency, and there are a few fans who are becoming frustrated too.

However, a win at the Emirates would make every Chelsea supporter's Christmas a little less blue.