Chelsea welcome Arsenal to Stamford Bridge on Saturday for the first Premier League match of the weekend. The Blues are currently four points clear of the Gunners, who have a game in hand, and they will be looking to bounce back from their shock defeat at Aston Villa last weekend.
Encounters between Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger have been heated over the years.
Both bosses will be hoping for a better game than the dour 0-0 draw played out at the Emirates in December. The teams left the field on that rainy Monday with the chant of “boring, boring Chelsea” echoing round the stadium.
According to The Guardian, Mourinho was quick to respond with a dig at the home side:
I think boring is a team that plays at home and cannot score a goal. That's boring. Because you go to your stadium and you fill your stadium, in weather like we had on Monday, to see victories. There is not a home fan in any club in the world who goes to the stadium and expects his team not to score or win. If any team was boring, they were boring because Petr Cech made zero saves.
Mourinho will be present on the sidelines despite his red card at Villa Park, but his team selection will virtually be made for him due to injuries and suspensions.
John Terry should keep his place at centre-half alongside midweek goalscorer Gary Cahill, with Branislav Ivanovic completing the back four.
Ramires’ red card against Villa has earned him a three-match suspension, allowing Nemanja Matic to return to the side. Frank Lampard is the likeliest partner for Matic as Marco van Ginkel continues his return to fitness.
The attacking trio will see some changes, with Willian joining Ramires in the naughty corner after his red card. Andre Schurrle will likely take his place on the right, with Oscar continuing in the No. 10 role.
However, if the Brazilian struggles to impact the game, Schurrle could move inside with Mohamed Salah on the right flank. Eden Hazard will complete the trio on the left.
Samuel Eto’o took his goal tally for the season into double figures against Galatasaray on Wednesday, with all of his goals coming at Stamford Bridge. According to The Evening Standard, Mourinho prefers to start with Eto’o in home games and is unlikely to change that formula for such a crucial fixture.
This match marks Wenger’s 1000th match in charge of Arsenal and Mourinho will certainly want to spoil his old foe’s party by continuing his unbeaten record against the Frenchman.
However, with so much to play for at the top of the table, he will need to ensure that there is no complacency from his players to maintain Chelsea’s title challenge.