London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea meet at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday with the Premier League stakes as high as they have been of late. The Blues will be confident after beating European champions Barcelona in midweek, whilst the Gunners are in pole position for third place. Premier League betting would indicate a close game, and the winner of this crunch tie will be a step closer to Champions League qualification for next term.
Arsenal have exceeded expectations after a slow start to propel themselves into a commanding third place with five games remaining. Despite an unexpected 2-1 defeat to Wigan on Monday night, the Gunners are sitting pretty five points ahead of their closest rivals and on the verge of an automatic qualification place for next year’s Champions League. Arsene Wenger is confident of a top four finish, but a defeat on Saturday would deal the north London club a serious blow in their ambitions and threaten their chances of finishing third.
The Emirates outfit recorded a memorable 5-3 win over Chelsea in the reverse fixture this season, and with the likes of Robin van Persie, Gervinho and Tomas Rosicky in their ranks will be hopeful of a similar outcome on Saturday. The hosts have some concerns in central midfield due to Mikel Arteta’s season-ending injury, which will mean that Alex Song and Aaron Ramsey will harbour the responsibility of running the home side’s possession game.
Chelsea have been rejuvenated under the influence of former player Roberto Di Matteo and will go into the game full of confidence after a rich form of form of late. A 1-0 win over Barcelona on Wednesday night had the Stamford Bridge crowd delighted and the west London side will look to build on this going into the crunch clash.
The Blues are currently two points behind Newcastle and Tottenham and sit in sixth place with five games to go. Di Matteo’s future as manager of the club hangs in the balance with Chelsea’s season yet to be decided and the club in transitional status. Failure to qualify for the Champions League would be a massive blow for the Stamford Bridge club, but the Blues will know that a win on Saturday has the facility to throw them right back into the mix and give them a fighting chance of finishing in the top four.
With all to play for this is sure to be a clash between two teams desperate for three points. The Blues will be buoyed on by their heroics in midweek against Barcelona but will have the return fixture in mind, whilst the Gunners will know they can all but seal a top four finish with a victory. One thing is for sure; a scintillating and exciting game is in store.