Chelsea vs. Arsenal: Blues Will Hold off Hard-Charging Gunners in London Derby

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Chelsea vs. Arsenal: Blues Will Hold off Hard-Charging Gunners in London Derby
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Juan Mata has been the key to Chelsea's steady play this season.

The London derby between Chelsea and Arsenal may not be the most well-renowned or historically significant of its kind in the English Premier League, but the outcome will nonetheless have plenty of impact on the league.

The Blues have owned the Gunners of late, winning 15 of their last 18 matches against the footballers from the Emirates Stadium, and should find themselves back on the positive end of the ledger once again, however tenuously.

Arsenal have struggled through the early portion of the season, accruing just 13 points through nine EPL matches, while Arsene Wenger has busied himself with the task of retooling the roster on the fly.

The Gunners sold Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri to Manchester City and Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona over the summer in what were long-awaited moves, and have been slow to recover since.

The additions of new boys Gervinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mikel Arteta, Per Mertesacker and Yossi Benayoun have been somewhat slow to adapt to Arsene's system. This has left Robin Van Persie to shoulder the burden of productivity, particularly amidst injuries to Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Thomas Vermaelen, among others.

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Juan Mata would likely have helped tremendously amidst the turmoil, but Chelsea were quick to swoop in ahead of Arsenal to pick him up from Valencia. Mata has since become the centerpiece of Andre Villas-Boas's attack, revitalizing the once-doomed career of Fernando Torres along the way.

Both sides enter Saturday's match in inopportune positions, by way of injury and unfamiliarity. The Gunners will be without right-backs Bacary Sagna and Carl Jenkinson, leaving Laurent Koscielny and Johan Djorou to man positions with which they are not ideally familiar.

As for Chelsea, Jose Boswinga and Didier Drogba will be absent, though Torres, Daniel Sturridge and Nicolas Anelka should prove capable against a rather suspect Arsenal defense.

The Gunners can actually claim to have played the better football of late, with victories over Stoke City and Bolton in their most recent domestic fixtures, though the Blues boast more tangible advantages. After all, the match will be played at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea have yet to lose this season, and the Blues will sport further motivation after a massively disappointing 1-0 defeat to QPR at Loftus Road in EPL play last weekend.

All told, Arsenal will give Chelsea all they can handle, but will ultimately come up short on account of a thin, unproductive attack and a defense that has shown itself vulnerable on any and every occasion in which the ball comes into the box.

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