October has been a great month for Arsenal. After a horrendous beginning to the season, Arsenal have won seven of their last eight games and seemed to have found their balance once again.
This weekend is a big test for Arsene Wenger and the Gunners, as they will have to travel west to Stamford Bridge to play arch-rivals Chelsea FC.
During the midweek, Arsenal were able to rest their star players and fight back in their 2-1 win against Bolton in the Carling Cup.
Chelsea also had a tough encounter in the Carling Cup against Everton. After being leveled through 90 minutes, Daniel Sturridge was able to score the winner in extra time to advance his side to the quarterfinals.
Arsenal will feel very confident this weekend against Chelsea with the return of their star defender, Thomas Vermaelen. Vermaelen, who was on the sideline for approximately two months, returned to action against Bolton and put in a really good shift for the club. He did walk off with a calf problem, but it will not keep him out of this London derby. Vermaelen will be key for Arsenal to continue their successful run against Chelsea.
A big reason for the Gunners' successful run has been the outstanding form of their talisman, Robin Van Persie. Van Persie has continued with his good form from last season by scoring seven goals in nine appearances in the league this season.
Chelsea will be without some key players in this fixture. Both Didier Drogba and Jose Boswinga received red cards last weekend, but only Drogba will miss the match. Chelsea will also be without Ramires and possibly John Terry, only if he receives any punishment from racism accusations made in their 1-0 loss to QPR.
Arsenal will once again be without a number of key players due to injuries. Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson will miss the match due to recent injuries. Arsenal will also be without long-term absentees such as Bacary Sagna, Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby.
With the void at right back, expect Arsene Wenger to move Laurent Koscielny to the right back position to allow Vermaelen and Per Mertesacker to form a partnership in the center of the defense. Koscielny will have a tough task at hand with dealing with the impressive Juan Mata, who snubbed a move to the Emirates in the summer.
Chelsea Projected Starting XI
Cech, Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Cole; Mikel, Lampard, Meireles; Mata, Torres, Anelka.
Arsenal Projected Starting XI
Szczesny, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Santos; Song, Arteta, Ramsey; Gervinho, Van Persie, Walcott.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-1
If you asked me a month ago about what was going to be the score of this fixture, I might have gone 4-1 in favor of Chelsea.
But Arsenal are on a very good run of form and are gaining a lot of confidence.
Chelsea, on the other hand, have looked a little shaky at times and look susceptible.
Arsenal do have a bad run of away form in the league, but I think they will end that at Stamford Bridge this weekend.
The key matchup will be between David Luiz and Robin Van Persie. Luiz, who has been shaky this season, will have to take the responsibility of containing Robin Van Persie, who is arguably the best striker in the Premier League.
This will be a tight contest, and it should be decided by the better midfield.
The difference maker in this match will be Aaron Ramsey. Ramsey has been very impressive this season and has assumed to be the ideal replacement for Cesc Fabregas. He has been Arsenal's "X-Factor," and I expect him to trouble Chelsea throughout the contest and lead Arsenal to an impressive victory at Stamford Bridge.