We face Arsenal on Sunday with a ten-point lead over them at the top of the league and eighteen points left up for grabs for both sides.
They, like us have a match in hand over the majority of the league.
There are still various points permutations possible as to the earliest that we can win the league, but we can’t do it against Arsenal so I will leave it at that as far as this preview goes. Suffice to say that it is nice to be able to go into this fixture knowing that it is far from vital to take all three points.
Arsenal are in exceptional form, having won their last eight matches in the league. They are also now through to the FA cup final. They have the third best home form in the league, behind Manchester United, and us and have only been beaten once in the league at the Emirates stadium this season. They have also won nine on the bounce at home, and have netted in all home league matches.
We have as many statistics going in our favour though. We boast the best away form in the league, are unbeaten in six matches against Arsenal, and they have failed to score against us in the last three meetings. We beat them 2-0 nil at Stamford Bridge earlier this season, Diego Costa and Eden Hazard the scorers. In our last five away fixtures against Arsenal, we have recorded two wins, two draws and a defeat. Last seasons corresponding fixture ended 0-0. Lampard had our best effort with a shot against the bar in the first half. Our midfield controlled the match, but both teams cancelled each other out for the majority of the proceedings.
Our last match at home to Manchester United may prove to be good preparation for this fixture, and a similar pattern to the match would not come as a surprise. Arsenal will no doubt try to take the match to us, and try to enjoy large amounts of possession and put us under threat from the off. We showed against Manchester United that we could cope with this. Despite them having a much higher percentage of possession than us, we defended extremely well in the match, and restricted them to very few opportunities. This also aloud us chances to hit them on the counter attack, which is where we got our goal. This also displayed another great trait of this side that may come in handy on Sunday, and that is taking your chances when they arise. We did that to good effect against Manchester United, and against QPR. It is one of the main differences to last season, where we lacked the ability to kill matches off, or take a chance to turn one where we were on the back foot.
If we can repeat our defensive performance and keep a clean sheet, whether we manage to take a chance at the other end or not, it would certainly go down as a good result and another step closer to the title.
With Arsenal currently being our closest challenger, any points we can take of them is a bonus, and would leave them with their biggest opportunity of closing us down gone.
There is no chance that Mourinho will let any of our side be complacent as the job is not yet done, and there will still be work to do even if we can take all three points from the fixture.
Ivanovic, Terry and Hazard have played in every league match so far this season, and no doubt will all start at the Emirates stadium. Fabregas will be set for a no doubt frosty reception, but is still in good form and will more than likely line up next to Matic. Costa is still out with his hamstring injury, whether Remy is fit to start, or if Mourinho may opt to start with Drogba anyway remains to be seen. Didier has so often been the scourge of Arsenal that it would be no surprise to see him start, and hopefully get on the score sheet.