The Premier League returns this weekend and in fitting style.
Not one but two London derbies await and front-and-centre, Chelsea host Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening.
Two former league title rivals, more recent seasons have seen the two sides tread alternating paths.
Yet, whenever west and north London have met in the past, the sparks have flown. This weekend should be no different.
A hint of form
For Chelsea, the season thus far has not a been a bright start to a new era under Mauricio Pochettino.
Indeed, as the Blues sit 11th in the standings, the club resume heading toward November in the bottom half of the table.
However, winning just once in their opening six league outings, Chelsea looked to have turned a corner. Of sorts.
Stopping the rot and picking up successive league wins before the international hiatus, a sterner test of their progress now awaits.
Good energy! 💙 pic.twitter.com/vEVDnQxIPK
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) October 20, 2023
Indeed, Arsenal, level on points with Tottenham, could be top of the table come the end of the weekend, if results go their way.
And, having thumped Bournemouth before finally ending their Manchester City hoodoo last time out, the Gunners are in fine fettle.
So what sort of contest are we expecting on Saturday?
Battle of Stamford Bridge?
From a punter’s perspective, the weekend’s clash should again bring more than a dash of capital spice.
In all Chelsea’s eight league games this term, at least five cards have been shown, as the Blues’ intense style of play ramps up under Pochettino.
That trend is likely to continue.
In the corresponding fixture last term, no fewer than seven cards were shown by referee Michael Oliver.
Chris Kavanagh may not be the most prolific of stewards in the bookings department, but the man in the middle can expect a busy evening, given sterner directives.
Gallagher-Enzo 11/2 double
At the heart of Chelsea’s attempt to add some much-needed bite to their midfield, Conor Gallagher and Enzo Fernandez are central.
As far as discipline goes, the two have shared four yellow cards across half their games played this term.
The Argentine, Fernandez, has been cautioned three times to Gallagher’s lone booking in defeat to Nottingham Forest, at Stamford Bridge.
In the case of Gallagher though, the midfielder received a yellow card both home and away against Arsenal last term.
Bukayo Saka’s availability remains up in the air, but if the Gunners can unleash Saka, together with Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus, the visitors will be set-up to break at pace.
That leaves the door open for cards to tot up.
For both Gallagher and Fernandez to be carded, an 11/2 punt with William Hill looks inviting.
Meanwhile, 7/2 odds for over 2 cards to be shown in each half is another attractive alternative.
Chelsea host Arsenal in the Premier League on Saturday at Stamford Bridge, kick-off 17:30 BST.