Chelsea vs. Arsenal: London Derby Preview

Bela TrimmelCorrespondent IFebruary 7, 2010

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - JANUARY 30:  Nicholas Anelka of Chelsea celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Burnley and Chelsea at Deepdale on January 30, 2010 in Burnley, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Arsenal and Chelsea will face off on Sunday at Stamford Bridge for, perhaps, the critical London derby of the season.

Chelsea, who are dealing with the Terry issue, saw their place at the top of the table go to Manchester United on Saturday when Sir Alex Ferguson's side thumped Portsmouth.

The Gunners, on the other hand, are looking to continue chipping away at the deficit between them and the league leaders.

Chelsea will be looking to repeat their form against Arsenal from earlier in the season when they won 3-0. The last goal in that match came from an own goal by Vermaelen.

Despite missing Eduardo, Arsenal will look to not only test the fragility in the Chelsea camp, but to bounce back from the league defeat to Manchester United last weekend.

Rest assured, both managers understand the importance of this match.

Carlo Ancelotti has been put on record as saying that every game is important and can decide the season's future.

On the other side, Arsene Wenger is looking to attack during a questionable time for both clubs. However, Wenger may be more troubled by his keeper, Manuel Almunia.

While Chelsea experienced their own goalkeeping woes from set pieces, they have recovered well, whereas Almunia's form has become more of an issue in recent times.

According to the Guardian, the Spaniard is 19th in terms of performance among Premiership keepers. 

However, the merit of the Gunners' keeper may not be called into contention too often on Sunday if the offensive pairing of Drogba and Anelka cannot perform.

The West London side were not hurting for goals during Drogba's ACoN absence. However, as the team's top scorer, he will be looking to inflict damage come match time.

However, the offensive paring of Drogba and Anelka up front has not had the desired results for Ancelotti, so far.

Chelsea will also struggle in the midfield. Their workhorse, Michael Essien, will be out due to a knee injury until the end of the month.

In all, it looks to be a high intensity match that will serve to take Chelsea to the top of the table or will confirm Wenger's belief that his team has a fighting chance to remain in the title hunt.

Prediction: Chelsea 2, Arsenal 1