Chelsea vs Arsenal: Aubameyang out to bite Arteta's title chances but points priority for Potter in evolving rivalry | The SunNovember 6, 2022
PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG takes on his former team-mates – just nine months after his acrimonious Arsenal exit.
And oh how the striker will be desperate to get one over on his former employers at Stamford Bridge on Sunday lunchtime.
But even the Gabon international would surely admit three points is far more important than adding another to his own personal goal tally to inflict another dent in Arsenal's title ambitions.
For defeat in another league clash against the Gunners at Stamford Bridge would make it three in a row, something not experienced since 1974.
And it would extend the gap between top-of-the-table Arsenal and Chelsea to 13 points after 13 games in a further dent to their hopes of Champions League qualification.
To make matters worse, the Blues headed into the weekend's games knowing the pressure was on from neighbours Fulham and Graham Potter's old side Brighton, who stuffed them 4-1 last week.
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That thumping on the south coast was Potter's first defeat for the Blues, who remain unbeaten at the Bridge since Arsenal headed across town and also stuck four past them in April – including a pair for former Chelsea academy talent Eddie Nketiah.
Roman Abramovich's arrival in West London led to a drastic shift in this rivalry as Chelsea dominated.
They lost just four times out of 29 competitive matches between 2004 and 2016, collecting four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, the Europa League and the Champions League in that time.
By comparison, Arsenal added three FA Cups to add to their Invincibles campaign.
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But the tide has turned in recent years and now it is Arsenal in the ascendancy, further along the path of transition as Mikel Arteta closes in on three years in the dugout and Potter only just getting going.
Excitement levels at the Emirates have never been higher since their switch from Highbury in 2006.
Their young, hungry squad – now devoid of Aubameyang and his misdemeanours – are flying high with talented forwards finally backed up by a stable defensive unit.
For Chelsea, they are still in the early phases of the Potter regime, still working out who and what works best – and in particular where.
Potter's chopping and changing at times seems a masterstroke – but also leaves some fans wondering if he really has any idea of his best team or formation just yet.
Aubameyang is his only genuine No9, although Kai Havertz is more prolific in front of goal and adds far more to the overall team performance.
The ex-Arsenal skipper – who managed 92 goals in 163 games for the North Londoners – made a bright start with three goals in his first five Chelsea appearances.
But two of those were against a pretty woeful AC Milan side, albeit the finish at Crystal Palace showed the class plenty of Arsenal fans who all about.
Now the 33-year-old goes up against an in-form William Saliba and the rest of a defence who know the forward's game inside out.
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A goal – in particular a winning goal – would see Auba join fellow former Gunners captain Cesc Fabregas as the only two players to score in this fiery fixture for both clubs in the Premier League.
And after following Fabregas' footsteps from Arsenal captain to Barcelona and then to Chelsea, there will be zero love lost.
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