Chelsea vs Arsenal preview - London derby will gauge Arsenal progress - Wenger

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Posted Saturday, October 29, 2011 by PA

Chelsea vs Arsenal preview - London derby will gauge Arsenal progress - Wenger

Arsene Wenger feels the trip to Chelsea will provide the perfect test by which to measure Arsenal's recovery.

The Gunners head to Stamford Bridge on the back of seven wins from eight games, which has moved them up the Barclays Premier League table, to the top of their Champions League group and into the last eight of the Carling Cup.

Wenger, though, also knows full well that hard work could be severely dented with a poor away performance tomorrow lunchtime.

"First of all a win would of course install us among the top teams in the league, but what is very important is that it would strengthen the belief inside the team and would continue our progress," said the Arsenal manager.

"I feel we are getting stronger and Chelsea is a big test - a test of strength, of resolve, of commitment, and that is what we expect tomorrow."

Centre-back Thomas Vermaelen is expected to be available for the clash.

The Belgian defender limped out of the midweek Carling Cup win over Bolton on what was his return from an ankle injury, but that proved to be nothing more than cramp in his calf.

Full-back Carl Jenkinson (knee) faces a late fitness test, but Kieran Gibbs (stomach) remains out, along with midfielders Abou Diaby and Jack Wilshere and full-back Bacary Sagna (all ankle).

John Terry looks set to lead out Chelsea after Andre Villas-Boas insisted he had no concerns about his captain's state of mind.

Blues boss Villas-Boas reiterated his full backing for Terry amid the Football Association and police probes into whether the England skipper racially abused QPR defender Anton Ferdinand during Sunday's Barclays Premier League game at Loftus Road.

Terry, who has categorically denied the allegations made against him, will make his first public appearance since the race row erupted and Villas-Boas was adamant the 30-year-old was ready to do so.

"I see no reason why not," Villas-Boas said, insisting he had no fears about Terry playing.

"Not in the sense of his state of mind - never."

Villas-Boas also denied the saga had been a distraction for his team as they look to close the six-point gap to Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.

"I don't think, for us, it's been a distraction," said Villas-Boas, whose side beat Everton in the Carling Cup on Wednesday night without Terry after losing to QPR on Sunday.

"We haven't lost too much focus on the situation because there is nothing to lose focus on."

Ramires is fit to return following a knee injury, Fernando Torres is set to start a domestic match for the first time in more than a month following his three-game ban, Didier Drogba is still suspended, as is Ross Turnbull, while Hilario has flu.



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