THE rich recent history of their rivalry may have been downgraded.
Think of David Dein talking of Roman Abramovich parking his tanks on Arsenal’s lawn.
Corbis – Getty Chelsea vs Arsenal has certainly lost the fire it had in the Jose Mourinho-Arsene Wenger heyday
Of Didier Drogba bullying a generation of Arsenal defenders.
Of the Ashley Cole tapping-up storm.
Of Jose Mourinho overhauling Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles and the pair staging one of the most bitter and savage feuds the English game has ever seen.
Yet Chelsea v Arsenal has rarely been a more important fixture than now, as London’s fallen footballing royalty seeks desperately to re-enter the Champions League.
Getty – Contributor New Arsenal manager Unai Emery struggled to get his message across to his players in the Man City defeat
Premier League rookies Maurizio Sarri and Unai Emery certainly don’t possess the clout of Mourinho and Wenger.
But while Emery has a more impressive CV than Sarri, who landed the Chelsea job despite winning nothing by the age of 59, early impressions are favouring the new, chain-smoking Godfather of Stamford Bridge.
Before this teatime showdown, word is that Sarri is re-energising the players, freeing them up tactically and allowing a talented squad to enjoy their football again.
Emery, meanwhile, is struggling to get his message across and lacking the charisma to inspire an Arsenal squad which was in need of a bigger overhaul than a tight budget allowed this summer.
Getty – Contributor Maurizio Sarri has appeared to re-energise the Chelsea squad
Wenger’s successor has been panned for apparently being too dogmatic in his insistence that Arsenal play the ball out from the back — orders which apparently left Petr Cech in such a tangle with the ball at his feet during last Sunday’s 2-0 defeat by Manchester City.
Emery denies that accusation and says he will stick with Cech, rather than German new boy Bernd Leno today.
But one summer signing more likely to make his first start is Lucas Torreira, the boy from the Uruguayan town of Fray Bentos, who is expected to be different gravy as he adds beef to the Arsenal midfield.
The Gunners hope this former Sampdoria man can add bite and energy in the centre of the park, as Chelsea’s Jorginho is doing alongside N’Golo Kante.
Getty – Contributor Sarri will hope Jorginho and N’Golo Kante run the midfield at Stamford Bridge
While Arsenal losing at home to City and away at Chelsea would surprise nobody, getting something out of a visit to the Bridge feels desperately important as Emery seeks to gain a foothold.
It will not be easy for either Arsenal or Chelsea to force their way back into the top four, while also negotiating the Thursday-Sunday grind of Europa League campaigns.
Manchester City and Liverpool are certainly locked into the Champions League places — leaving just Manchester United and Tottenham as being in any way vulnerable.
Neither Arsenal nor Chelsea can be too confident in overhauling their hated mutual rival Spurs while under new management this term.
Getty – Contributor Lucas Torreira is expected to come in and beef up Arsenal’s midfield