After making several changes for Chelsea’s EFL Cup clash with Leicester City midweek, most of these have been reversed as expected.
Thibaut Courtois is back between the sticks after Asmir Begovic failed to impress sufficiently to further his case. In front of the Belgian is the same back four that conceded two goals against Liverpool last weekend.
John Terry has not fully recovered from his ankle injury and thus is not in the matchday squad. David Luiz was unremarkable against Liverpool, but not poor. He will be hoping to show that he is a reliable option at the back in this high-pressured clash.
Marcos Alonso started midweek, but Antonio Conte has chosen to deploy Branislav Ivanovic this afternoon. The Serbian also wears the armband in Terry’s absence.
In between the defence and midfield, N’Golo Kante retains the spot which he has made his own. Ahead of him, though, is where Conte has made some interesting decisions.
After an eye-catching two-goal performance in the EFL Cup, Cesc Fabregas gets the start in midfield. This change is likely to please Blues fans. Having said that, Nemanja Matic keeps his place as Oscar is the one dropped to the bench. Evidently, Conte wants to recognise Fabregas’ efforts while ensuring that defensive cover isn’t sacrificed.
Victor Moses, meanwhile, will be somewhat disappointed to be on the sidelines again. The Nigerian was impressive against Leicester but Conte has opted to restore the Eden Hazard-Willian partnership on the wings.
At the top of the field, Diego Costa leads the line. The Spanish international will be tasked with riling the Arsenal defence as much as hitting the back of the net. Conte again has Michy Batshuayi to utilise as an impact sub should the situation require him.
On the other side of affairs, Arsene Wenger fields a team unchanged from the line-up that beat Hull City 4-1 last weekend. They will set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Alexis Sanchez spearheading the attack.
The matchup between Alex Iwobi and Branislav Ivanovic will be particularly intriguing. The latter will need to leverage his significant experience to get the better of the talented youngster.
Olivier Giroud, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Granit Xhaka represent significant options from the home bench.