Chelsea's title credentials to be tested by improving Arsenal
02 October 2014, 13:36
London - Chelsea will put their Premier League title credentials on the line again this weekend when they take on an improving Arsenal side in the last round of matches before another international break.
Jose Mourinho's side have won five out of their six games, with one draw, enough for a three-point lead at the top and a six-point lead over Arsenal in fourth place.
Mourinho will monitor the fitness of striker Diego Costa, who has scored eight goals so far in his first season but who is nursing a tight hamstring.
The Spaniard played all 90 minutes in the midweek Champions League win at Sporting Lisbon and Mourinho expects him to start on Sunday.
"Hopefully everything goes well and hopefully from Tuesday (until) Sunday he has enough time to be back again on track and to play against Arsenal (in the Premier League)."
Costa's presence will be crucial to Chelsea's hopes, not least since Didier Drogba is out of action for a couple of weeks.
Aresenal manager Arsene Wenger heaped praise on striker Danny Welbeck after his hat-trick in the Champions League in midweek and will look to the former Manchester United man again against a tough Chelsea side.
"I knew he was quick but he's electric," Wenger said. "Hopefully that hat-trick will help him gain confidence."
"What's good for me is that his link play is good as well. His teamwork and his work rate is at the level of the team. His attitude is very positive - he's a team player, not just a finisher. He has learned that on the flank and he wants to help the team."
Second-placed Southampton will travel to London to face Tottenham Hotspur and their former manager Mauricio Pocchetino.
New Southampton manager Ronald Koeman has seen his team recover from a slow start to head the chasing pack behind Chelsea.
Striker Graziano Pelle, who played under Koeman at Feyenoord, scored a wonder-goal for Southampton last weekend and Koeman has been impressed with how quickly he has adapted.
"In the first two weeks I told him: 'It's not Holland'," Koeman said.
"In Holland if you bring 70 per cent of your physical effort you will win the battle. In the Premier League you have to bring more than 100 per cent, and he's doing that. Then you see how good he is as an attacker."
Champions Manchester City, two points behind Southampton in third, will hope to shake off the disappointment of a home draw in the Champions League by winning at Aston Villa.
Villa, who dropped to sixth after last weekend's defeat by Chelsea, could have striker Christian Benteke back from injury.
At the other end of the table, Alan Pardew will hope for some relief from speculation about his future by getting a result for second-bottom Newcastle United at Swansea City.
The Newcastle manager was due to meet with owner Mike Ashley this week to discuss the side's poor start to the season.
Media reports suggest Pardew's job is safe for the time being, but he will be desperate to get their first win of the season.
Manchester United could force themselves into a top-four spot if they can beat Everton at Old Trafford.
But manager Louis van Gaal's resources will be further stretched after midfielder Ander Herrera fractured a rib last weekend.
Bottom side Burnley are away to Leicester, Hull play Crystal Palace, West Ham face Queens Park Rangers and Sunderland take on Stoke City in the weekend's other matches.
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