Arsene Wenger has already warned his Arsenal players they will have to be prepared to “fight” Chelsea’s controversial striker Diego Costa on Sunday.
Costa was at the centre of an extremely heated encounter between these two arch rivals at Stamford Bridge earlier in this campaign.
Arsenal boss Wenger said after the match that referee Mike Dean was weak to give tough decisions and now he has sent somewhat a warning to Mark Clattenburg, who will be officiating this weekend’s return fixture during the pre-match press meet on Thursday.
Wenger claimed: “We have to be prepared for a battle because Costa gives you a fight. After that, it’s down to the referee.
“We have to focus on our performance. It’s another game where people look at us and see how we behave.
“It will be an intense game – as usual in the Premier League. Overall, I think because of the qualities of the players on the pitch and what is at stake for both teams, it will be a very intense battle.”
Chelsea’s Bad-boy Diego Costa eventually slapped with a three match ban by the Football Association after a fight with the Gunners centre-half Gabriel during the reverse fixture back in September.
Gabriel was sent off then (his red card later overturned) as the Blues managed to win an ugly match which the visitors ultimately finished with nine men after midfielder Santi Cazorla was also sent off by Dean.
The Premier League leaders Arsenal are looking to break down a psychological barrier by securing a first league victor over Chelsea in more than four years.
Mesut Ozil will be back in action from a toe injury and Arsene Wenger is also hopeful that Alexis Sánchez can play at some stage of the match after missing the past seven weeks’ action with a hamstring issue. Sanchez however will be monitored in training season to make sure there is no risk of a relapse if he plays some part of the coming fixture against Chelsea, while the whole team is preparing themselves for the prospect of facing a quarrelsome Diego Costa.
Meanwhile Costa, who is expected to play the rematch of stormy September derby despite suffering a bruised shin during the draw with Everton last weekend has netted five times in as many games since Guus Hiddink’s arrival as caretaker manager for rest of the season.