Chelsea-Arsenal Preview

TOM BENNETT (STATS European Football Writer)
The Associated Press

Premier League leaders Arsenal will be hoping to bring their recent run of poor results to an end as they welcome fellow title hopefuls Chelsea to the Emirates Stadium on Monday evening.

Arsenal (11-2-3) have drawn with Everton and lost 6-3 to Manchester City in their last two league games, and a defeat to Napoli ensured that they missed out on winning their Champions League group - resulting in them drawing European champions and tournament favourites Bayern Munich in the last 16.

Despite the disappointing start to December, the Gunners went into Christmas week still atop the Premier League, albeit with just a two-point lead and only a four-point advantage over Everton in fifth.

"We have made good results until now because we have a good solidarity level and a good togetherness in the squad, and I don't see any sign of that dropping," said Wenger. "I think even more than that, the players are focused to respond on Monday night. It can happen in a season when sometimes you have a bit of a weaker period. How you respond to this kind of problem is what matters.

"We have decided to fight until the last day of the season, and look back at the championship then to think we have given it our all. Are we first or fourth? That attitude will not change."

Monday's visitors to the Emirates have been perceived to have struggled since Jose Mourinho's return, but a win would send Chelsea (10-3-3) above Arsenal. The Blues have scored just one goal less than the free-flowing Gunners this season, but have already conceded 18 - more than in the entirety of Mourinho's first title-winning season at Stamford Bridge.

"If I want to win 1-0, I think I can," said Mourinho, referring to the attempted change of style at Chelsea. "One of the easiest things in football is to win 1-0. It's not so difficult. You structure your team from the back, you organise your team from the defensive idea, you don't give freedom to your players to express themselves. The dynamic of the team is defensive and what you do is you recover the ball and try to punish the opponent on the counter-attack. To win 1-0 is not the most difficult thing in football.

"I don't want to because we are going in a direction which is the right direction in terms of the quality of football we want to play, and it's quite frustrating that you have to change that and go one step back and go in another direction just because you want better results."

Arsenal have injury doubts over Laurent Koscielny (knee) and Lukas Podolski (hamstring), while Ryo Miyaichi (hamstring), Yannick Sanogo (back), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee) and Abou Diaby (knee) remain out. Chelsea are expected to be without Ryan Bertrand, while fellow fullback Cesar Azpilicueta is a doubt.

Chelsea did the double over Arsenal last season, with Juan Mata scoring in both 1-0 wins. The Gunners have just two wins in the last 11 meetings between the two in all competitions and have managed just one clean sheet in the last 13 against Chelsea. In contrast, the Blues have posted five shutouts in their last nine against Wenger's side and have taken full points in four of their last six at the Emirates.

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