Be honest. If, back in August, I would have said that in late January, Chelsea would be on 25 points, four mere points out of the relegation places, you would have at best thought I was deluded, and at worst thought I'd suffer some sort of mental break, right? I mean, this is last year's champion, a team that won the league by eight points and who, by the 22 game mark last season, had already earned 52 points - they more or less coasted to the title last year, and a lot of us expected that form to continue into this season.
Chelsea's problems are many - older, decline-phase players, a manager who caused more turmoil than he was worth, injuries. You name it, it's been a problem this season. Of course, "Problem" is a relative term, as the wider reaction to Chelsea's season so far has ranged from Nelson Muntz on the low end to Peanuts-style happy dancing at the high end; there's something to be said for watching the mighty crumble, he said, knowing full well that when Arsenal struggle, these same reactions will be coming Arsenal's way in full force BUT ANYWAY SHUT UP MOVING ON
Arsenal are set to welcome back important first teamers this weekend - primarily Mesut Özil, whose presence will be welcome, given Arsenal's creative struggles the last few games. Alexis Sanchez may play a part as well, although Arsene's being a little cagey about that one. I figure he'll play a part, though, as may Mikel Arteta, although Arteta almost certainly won't start. After a week's training, I'd also expect to see Mohamed Elneny play a role, probably as a sub.
On the blue side of the pitch, it looks like both Eden Hazard and Diego Costa - returning after a three game ban for, uh, for being Diego Costa, probably - are going to be ready to go, and that Chelsea's only significant absence will be that of Radamel Falcao.
Arsenal are at home, facing a weakened Chelsea with their two best players back. I am...what's the opposite of dreading? Oh, right. I am looking forward to this game! No guarantees, obviously, and Arsenal will have to be firing on all cylinders, but this is a great chance to bask in the favor that Stoke hopefully does us today and also keep Chelsea down where they belong.