The shadow of Friday’s terror attacks in the London Tube looms large when Chelsea host arch-rivals Arsenal in a crunch Premier League tie at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
The fact that the attack happened a stone’s throw from Chelsea’s stadium is not lost on anyone. And with the city suffering, the players will have to take the onus to deliver a scintillating game of football which if nothing else, proves to be a welcome distraction.
The Blues, defending champions, have overcome an opening day loss to Burnley to register three wins on the trot and against the under-confident Gunners, are heavy favourites to clinch three points.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte rested several players for their European tie in mid-week, but their big guns are set to return for the tie at Stamford Bridge.
To make matters worse for Arsneal, not only is Alvaro Morata on song, but Eden Hazard is in line to make his first start of the season.
With Antonio Rudiger, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta keeping things tidy at the back, the midfield duo of Cesc Fabregas and N’Golo Kante recycling possession at a prodigious rate, there is hardly any weakness to pin-point.
Wing-backs Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses continue to lift their game and barring an unforeseen collapse, Chelsea are good value to clinch their sixth consecutive home win over Arsenal.
Talking Corner: We have to continue, to show we are stronger than them (the terrorists)-Chelsea manager Antonio Conte
Injury concerns: Danny Drinkwater (calf) and Baba Rahman (knee)
Suspension Alert: None
Laurent Koscielny hasn’t had the best of times against Chelsea, suffering at the hands of Diego Costa on many occasions but his task remains difficult, for the Blues’ record acquisitions, Alvaro Morata, is on fire.
To further complicate matters, Arsenal played in the Europa League on Thursday and teams have struggled to cope with the lack of adequate rest. Their recent form isn’t exactly encouraging and memories of their mauling at the hands of Liverpool are still fresh in memory.
Alexandre Lacazette is expected to lead the line but should Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil not be at the top of their games, it may just become another forgettable trip to the Bridge.
Talking Corner: It will be interesting because at Stamford Bridge, we have a good challenge. There is a mental challenge there that we want to get right-Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (www.arsenal.com)
Injury concerns: Santi Cazorla (ankle), Mathieu Debuchy (hamstring), Francis Coquelin (hamstring), Calum Chambers (groin) and Theo Walcott (calf)
Suspension Alert: None