Pitchside

Can Wenger break Mourinho hoodoo in title showdown?

Pitchside

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There's little question of the game of the weekend in the Premier League this time around, with Chelsea hosting Arsenal in the lunchtime kick-off on Saturday.

The Blues will be looking to bounce back in the league following their shock defeat to Villa, while Arsenal will look to build on the confidence gained from a narrow victory in the North London derby.

While the spectacle will likely draw most of the attention this week, this game will by no means guarantee goals.

Only one of the last seven matches that Mourinho has taken charge of at Chelsea between the two have seen more than two goals scored, and if the 0-0 stalemate from earlier in the season is anything to go by this match could well be another cagey affair.

The Chelsea boss will insist upon his players that they defend as a unit from the outset, building results as he does in such important matches from an excellent record at the back.

In the 10 league matches that the Blues have played against the rest of the sides in the top seven this season they've conceded just five goals, and never more than once in a game. If the West Londoners are to win the league this season it will be down to their record against those around them, having only lost to Everton in those 10 games.

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Arsenal, in comparison, have dropped fewer points against the ‘lesser’ sides in the division but struggled at times on the big occasion. Last week's win against Spurs was only their third in the nine matches that they've played against the remaining sides in the top seven, and in contrast to Chelsea they've conceded 13 goals in those matches.

When it comes to the battle between the two managers there has literally only been one winner. Mourinho and Wenger have gone head-to-head on the touchline on 10 occasions, with Portuguese yet to taste defeat.

With a split of five Chelsea wins and five draws, the only time that Arsenal have netted more than once against a Mourinho side was in their first attempt, when a brace from Thierry Henry back in 2004 helped to secure a 2-2 tie.

There’s further reason to suggest that goals may well be at a premium, as both sides will be without players that have enjoyed this fixture in recent years.

As far as the hosts are concerned Didier Drogba – who made an emotional return to the Bridge in midweek - had an exceptional record against the Gunners, with both he and Juan Mata having scored more goals against Arsenal (13 & 4 respectively) than any other side in their careers.

Meanwhile, the injured Theo Walcott has struck five times against the Blues and a Robin van Persie hat-trick secured Arsenal’s last victory between the two.

With Chelsea boasting the best home record, conceding just nine times at Stamford Bridge, it's unlikely that their defence will be breached all too often on Saturday. Nevertheless they host an Arsenal side that have the best record on the road this season, so another low-scoring, tight encounter is to be expected.

By Martin Laurence - on Twitter @martinlaurence7

All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find yet more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings.

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