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    Arsenal

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    Chelsea

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    Everton

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    Southampton

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    Fulham

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    Man City

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    Norwich

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BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE

Emirates Stadium, England

Attendance: 60101

* Local time based on your geographic location.

Arsenal

  • Gervinho 42'

1 - 2

FT

Chelsea

  • Fernando Torres 20'
  • Juan Mata 53'

London glory will come at high price

John Brewin
There will be sighs of relief at Emirates Stadium as Didier Drogba will not line up for Chelsea

It is set to be the most expensive game yet staged in Premier League history. That is not a reflection of Chelsea's latest spree on players, and it could hardly be Arsenal's. Instead, it is the man on the street, the punter, who will be paying through the nose for the first meeting of the season between London's pretenders to the title crown.

-Blog: No Drog to keep on the lead

Arsenal's new grading system of matchday prices places the capital-city derby as a minimum £62 admission price. Adding all the eye-watering prices together - and let's repeat that £62 is the minimum cost - then Arsenal are set to yield £6 million from a single fixture.

That's a figure that may even have met Robin Van Persie's wage demands, had he been minded to stay at the Emirates but the Dutchman was not. He departed a club once known as the 'Bank of England club' to one in Manchester United in hock to several banks in America. At present, both look best off without each other. Van Persie is rattling in the goals up North, while in North London, there are signs of the revival that Arsene Wenger has promised for far too long.

Resolute in defence, loaded with options in midfield while looking more varied in attack, Arsenal have fans purring in expectation, though understandable caution is also being adopted. There is much to enjoy. Santi Cazorla is a playmaker of previously unheralded gifts, Abou Diaby a once-unlikely driving force, Carl Jenkinson a right-back of growing maturity while Lukas Podolski has shown flashes of why he is a centurion for his country. Even Olivier Giroud broke his duck in midweek.

Of course, there are gripes. Arsenal's is that kind of fanbase. At those prices, who could blame them? Vito Mannone is not a Premier class keeper in the absence of Wojciech Szczesny, and Gervinho's propensity for dumbfounding misses will continue to frustrate. And in the background, there is Theo Walcott as the latest contract refusenik.

However, Arsenal's is still a happier ship than their visitors. The John Terry fall-out is sure to dominate the build-up to the match. Fernando Torres looks to be retreating into himself at a time when there are few other options in attack. Creative talents in Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar are being shoehorned in. Didier Drogba, the wrecking ball always so destructive to Arsenal, is now in Shanghai. Roberto Di Matteo, despite his trophy haul of last season, is already under pressure such that it is difficult to forget that Chelsea actually lead the league, and have won every domestic match save for their last London derby, at QPR.

Yet Chelsea is a club that often thrives on tension. It has done throughout the Roman Abramovich era. Arsenal's problem since 2004 has usually been that when all looks as if it is running well, then the wheels come off all too readily. The first genuine test of the season for both can gauge whether those patterns will be followed again. At those prices, we should expect at least something to be revealed.

Arsenal player to watch: Carl Jenkinson. Universally lampooned for his foal-like early appearances for Arsenal, which infamously took in an 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford in which he was - perhaps mercifully - sent off, Jenkinson has announced himself this season as a full-back who can both attack and defend. Injury last season may have come as a blessing since he has returned with an air of calm to his game, though he might need it to contend with the threat of Eden Hazard likely to be coming in from the left.

Chelsea player to watch: Fernando Torres. For a player granted such primacy, Torres no longer looks to be a man who enjoys the limelight. At the season's beginning we saw signs of the Torres on whom £50 million was shelled out. In recent weeks, against QPR, Juventus and Stoke, a player who no longer thrives in the penalty area was sighted. Di Matteo is correct to suggest his build-up play is fine but a lack of other options throws up alarm bells about this season's Chelsea.

Key battle: Santi Cazorla v John Obi Mikel. Here are two players of almost diametrically opposed views among their respective fanbases. Cazorla is fresh, exciting to the Arsenal faithful, his prompting and probing meet with applause and the expectation of a bright future. Mikel, meanwhile, is one of those players whom his club's fans believe they have seen enough of. Yet Mikel's role at the Emirates will be to stop Santi's surges, and give the ball to his more creative colleagues, a hugely important role. Without him, Chelsea will be in trouble. Cazorla meanwhile, may have to sacrifice himself for other colleagues to flourish around him.

Trivia: He is missed by Chelsea, but almost certainly won't be by Arsenal. Didier Drogba is the player to have scored the most times in this London derby, with 13 goals to his name.

Stats: And here's the tale of the Drogba tape. In the last 33 Premier League games between Chelsea and Arsenal, the Blues' record with Drogba playing is W7 D3 L1. Without him, it is W0 D9 L13. (Opta)

Odds: A Chelsea win is a healthy 3.50 offering at bet365, with Arsenal just a shade over odds-on at 2.10. The draw is 3.40.

Prediction: Arsenal to throw off the shackles of the Drogba years - 2004-12 - and win.

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