Arsenal and Chelsea go head-to-head in the first of three huge games between the two clubs in January; with the league game on Wednesday preceding the two-legged Carabao Cup semi-final later in the month.
As the two best teams in London over the past 20 years – despite Tottenham challenging that statement in recent seasons – the clubs boast incredible squads filled with world-class talent.
Here is a combined starting XI picked from Antonio Conte and Arsene Wenger’s squads:
1. GK: Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea)
Three and a half years after supplanting his opposite number Petr Cech to take the Chelsea number one shirt, Thibaut Courtois has fulfilled his immense potential and become one of Europe’s elite goalkeepers.
Petr Cech, while still an excellent, dependable shot-stopper between the sticks, has lost a step since moving across London two summers ago and is no longer the world-class asset that anchored Chelsea to domestic and European titles.
His former teammate at Stamford Bridge is the obvious choice in goal.
2. RWB: Hector Bellerin (Arsenal)
Regularly cited as one of, if not the, fastest player in the Premier League, Hector Bellerin offers blistering pace to the Arsenal side, representing a true wing-back in any sense of the word.
His opposite number Victor Moses is a resourceful, dangerous player to come up against, but cannot match his north London counterpart on sheer explosiveness or attacking threat. The Spaniard is sure to give his compatriot Marcos Alonso a tough time on Wednesday.
3. RCB: Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
Cesar Azpilicueta has been the most consistent defender in the top flight since his bargain £7million move from Marseille in 2012. Able to play on either flank or, since Antonio Conte joined the club, in central defence, he is as versatile as he is brilliant.
The Spaniard played every minute of last year’s title-winning season and continues to be undroppable, lending invaluable defensive nous to any match.
4. CB: Andreas Christensen (Chelsea)
Two years on loan at Borussia Monchengladbach have given Andreas Christensen ample experience at the top level, and he is now a key member of Antonio Conte’s squad.
Seen as the first graduate from the youth system since John Terry two decades ago, he has offered valuable depth at centre-back this season in the absence of the club legend.
The Dane has usurped captain Gary Cahill’s place in the starting 11 in recent weeks, and has a bright 2018 ahead of him.
5. LCB: Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal)
Upon his £35m return to England last summer, former Everton man Shkodran Mustafi has shown signs of being the stable presence in the back line Arsenal desperately need.
The German has the necessary strength to contain Alvaro Morata and co., and offers more mobility than Laurent Koscielny or Calum Chambers.
6. LWB: Marcos Alonso (Chelsea)
The highest-scoring defender in the Premier League for 2017, Marcos Alonso will look to start the New Year right with another good performance at the Emirates Stadium.
The Spaniard scored in the Boxing Day win over Brighton, and now has as many league goals as Eden Hazard this season. He is a key part of Chelsea’s ‘Catenaccio’ system and the way it works, providing the perfect mix of attack and defence down the left side.
7. CM: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)
Internationally lauded after his indispensable part in Leicester’s fairytale Premier League win two seasons ago, N’Golo Kante cemented his growing reputation by becoming the first player to win back-to-back titles with different clubs; anchoring Chelsea to victory last season and winning the PFA Player of the Year award to boot.
The Frenchman is well known as the most tireless midfielder in world football, possessing an inherent ability to be everywhere on the pitch.
8. CM: Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea)
A former Arsenal captain, Cesc Fabregas is no stranger to the Emirates, and returns as an integral part in the champions’ side.
Fabregas will relish the trip to his former club, and will aim to supply good service to Alvaro Morata up front, and deliver the killer blow to their top-four aspirations.
9. RW: Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)
With his commitment being questioned after a poor first half of the season, Alexis Sanchez reminded everyone of his quality with a match-winning brace against Crystal Palace over the festive period.
After a protracted move to Manchester City fell through on deadline day in the summer, the Chilean has been slightly off the boil in recent months, but remains a player of immense talent.
With six months left on his Arsenal contract, it remains to be seen whether he will still be at the Emirates past the end of the month, let alone next season.
10. LW: Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Eden Hazard, the one truly world-class player in Chelsea’s arsenal (no pun intended), has rediscovered the form which had him mentioned in the same breath as Messi, Neymar and Ronaldo a few seasons ago.
A match-winner who can win any game, he is a livewire capable of anything and has eight goals already this season, helping Antonio Conte’s side in their effort to keep pace with Pep Guardiola’s history-making City.
11. ST: Alvaro Morata (Chelsea)
The Spaniard has wasted no time in adapting to the Premier League after his £60m summer move from Real Madrid, notching ten league goals already and offsetting the loss of Diego Costa, who officially returned to Atletico Madrid on New Year’s Day.
A combination of pace, composure and strength, Morata is already one of Europe’s best marksmen and with a good second half of the season, could be the catalyst for a sustained challenge on all fronts at Stamford Bridge.