What's at stake: For starters, it's the top two teams in the league facing each other, and the narrowing chances for Arsenal to overtake Chelsea for the league title must start with a win today. And even if Chelsea does go on to win other games (probably by one goal, probably due to the opponent's goalkeeper flubbing a goal throw or simple save), Arsenal can still do several important things with a win -- leapfrogging Man City (who won with late game heroics against Tim Sherwood's Villa yesterday) to officially get back into second place with a game in hand, putting more distance between Arsenal and Man United (who is hilariously losing to Everton as I write this), and addressing a certain head-to-head matchup narrative that has made Chelsea fans particularly insufferable in the Mourinho Era.
Possible storylines for today: Aside from the obvious ones above, Cesc Fabregas returns to the Emirates in blue today, so that's awkward. Also, when the teams last met, Arsenal had a different starting goalie and some key players out with injury, so a win today will fuel some banter about What Might Have Been -- and, looking more productively forward toward next year, will let Premier League fans get a glimpse of what should be (good health willing) a look at the top two contenders in '15-'16.
Quick aside: Six Chelsea players in the PFA Team of the Year? Are you kidding me? (Congrats to Alexis for being Arsenal's lone rep.)
Prediction: My head says a testy 1-1, with Ozil and Hazard trading moments of brilliance in an otherwise congested game full of tackles, dives, bus-parking, and general malevolence. My heart wants a kajillion Arsenal goals and lots of camera shots of Sad Mourinho and Wisened Smirking Wenger.
Lineups: Apparently, Chelsea's going to play without a true striker.
.@Arsenal team to play Chelsea: Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Cazorla, Ramsey, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud #AFCvCFC— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2015
.@Arsenal subs: Szczesny, Debuchy, Gibbs, Wilshere, Walcott, Flamini, Welbeck #AFCvCFC— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2015
Chelsea team to play Arsenal: Courtois, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (c), Azpilicueta, Matic, Fabregas, Ramires, Oscar, Willian, Hazard. #CFC— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) April 26, 2015
Chelsea substitutes v Arsenal: Cech, Filipe Luis, Zouma, Mikel, Loftus-Cheek, Cuadrado, Drogba. #CFC— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) April 26, 2015