Arsenal vs Chelsea – London rivals on opposite trajectories

London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea are set to lock horns in a mouth-watering Premier League clash this weekend, with the sides experiencing contrasting fortunes so far in 2015-16.

While the Gunners sit on top of the table after 22 games and look set to put forward a considerable title challenge, few would have predicted the demise of the Blues.

The outgoing champions arrive at the Emirates Stadium four points off the relegation places and have had a campaign to forget so far.

Looking at the respective sides’ fortunes since the culmination of last season, it is clear to see that there have been major changes in the teams’ attitudes and performances.

Arsenal fans have longed to see their team crowned English champions since their last triumph in 2004, but the North London side have become the nearly-men of the Premier League.

Arsene Wenger’s side have been handed the reputation of starting the campaign slowly and rallying after Christmas, but, ultimately falling short of the major prize.

A 2-0 home defeat on the opening day of this season suggested that Arsenal were ready to follow their usual pattern, but the Gunners have shown much more consistency in 2015-16 so far than in recent memory.

With an open title race and those around them dropping points unexpectedly, Arsenal have a glorious chance to become champions this season.

In Mesut Ozil the club have arguably the Premier League’s form player, with the diminutive German providing assists to a much improved Olivier Giroud on a regular basis.

Although persistent injury worries continue, the January signing of Mohamed Elneny adds to Wenger’s options in a depleted midfield, with the Gunners looking in excellent shape to win silverware this season.

Thirteen positions and 19 points adrift of the league leaders, Chelsea supporters could not have imagined just how far their mighty team would fall this term.

An outfit that was renowned for its collective spirit, defensive frugality and lethal weaponry in the final third has been all but unrecognisable this season.

Jose Mourinho has paid the price for the dramatic dip, being axed by Roman Abramovich and replaced on an interim basis by Guus Hiddink.

Although the club’s fortunes have improved slightly since the arrival of the experienced Dutchman, Chelsea still remain in a perilous position and far from their best.

A leaky defence showed its vulnerability once more in the 3-3 draw with Everton last time out, while the team’s attacking stars have not been at their potent best.

Eden Hazard continues to struggle for fitness, but the return of Diego Costa to the scoresheet in recent weeks gives the Blues some hope.

Last season Chelsea would have been confident of going to the Emirates Stadium and shutting Arsenal out – something they did in April’s 0-0 draw.

However, the sides’ fortunes have altered significantly in the time since, with the Gunners able to capitalise on a weakened local foe and add to their title credibility on Sunday.

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