Five wins in eight against Chelsea - including an FA Cup final triumph - make the struggling Blues the PERFECT opponents for Arsenal as Mikel Arteta looks to get his side's title challenge back on track after a dismal April

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As a deflated Arsenal walked off the pitch at the Etihad last Wednesday after being totally outclassed by Manchester City, they could at least wave goodbye to what had been a frankly miserable April.

It was a month that had started with such promise, with a 4-1 win over Leeds at the Emirates on April 1 stretching the Gunners' lead over City at the top of the table to eight points.

But, they were subsequently held to three successive draws by Liverpool, West Ham and then Southampton, before being well and truly taken apart by Pep Guardiola's side as their lead was cut to six, four and then two points.

The final day of April didn't get much better, as the City juggernaut powered on and saw them go one point ahead of their title rivals with a 2-1 win against Fulham, albeit a victory that was not completely comfortable.

However, the important thing is Mikel Arteta's side are still in the race with five games to go - ahead of a run-in that begins against a struggling Chelsea side at the Emirates tonight.

Arsenal's title push has taken a hit after they have picked up just three points in four games

Arsenal's title push has taken a hit after they have picked up just three points in four games

Arsenal's title push has taken a hit after they have picked up just three points in four games

Mikel Arteta needs to reinvigorate his side's title challenge, starting tonight against Chelsea

Mikel Arteta needs to reinvigorate his side's title challenge, starting tonight against Chelsea

They face Frank Lampard's struggling Blues - who have lost all five matches since he returned

They face Frank Lampard's struggling Blues - who have lost all five matches since he returned

The Spaniard has a superb record against the Blues, winning five and losing just two of his eight games when facing them.

Many of these have been significant victories, such as the 2019/20 FA Cup final that helped give Arteta some credit in the bank - credit that he desperately needed to call upon when the Gunners were struggling in the lower reaches of the Premier League the following season.

They have also previously helped Arsenal to pull themselves out of ruts, akin to the situation they find themselves in tonight ahead of kick off. 

In some ways it is the perfect game. A rivalry that is sure to get the Emirates faithful right up for it and opponents who are the fourth-worst side in the form table since the turn of the year.

In total, Graham Potter, Bruno Saltor and Frank Lampard have overseen 15 league games since January 1, with the Blues winning three and picking up just 14 points, scoring only 10 goals in the process.

Having lost all five games under Lampard and picked up one point from five league matches last month, they are also the most out-of-form team in the top flight.

A win tonight could galvanise Arsenal's title charge and it is hard to not expect this to happen given Arteta's record when coming up against the west London side.

Arteta has a superb record when coming up against Chelsea, winning five of his eight games

Arteta has a superb record when coming up against Chelsea, winning five of his eight games

The Gunners beat them 2-1 in the FA Cup final in 2020 in a major result for Arteta and the club

The Gunners beat them 2-1 in the FA Cup final in 2020 in a major result for Arteta and the club

One of the few times he has failed to get a result was his first home game in charge after taking over, when the Gunners lost 2-1 to Lampard's Chelsea in December 2019.

MIKEL ARTETA'S MANAGERIAL RECORD VS CHELSEA 

Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea (December 2019)

Chelsea 2-2 Arsenal (January 2020)

Arsenal 2-1 Arsenal (August 2020) 

Arsenal 3-1 Chelsea (December 2020)

Chelsea 0-1 Arsenal (May 2021)

Arsenal 0-2 Chelsea (August 2021)

Chelsea 2-4 Arsenal (April 2022)

Chelsea 0-1 Arsenal (November 2022) 

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However, the team was unrecognisable from today's Arsenal, with an 18-year-old Bukayo Saka the only member of the starting XI that day likely to feature from the off tonight and even he played at left-back - in what was one of the early signs of his enormous potential.

They then played out a fiery 2-2 draw a month later at Stamford Bridge when 10-men Arsenal equalised late on through Hector Bellerin after David Luiz had been given his marching orders.

Saka and Gabriel Martinelli shone that day in another indication of two players who would go onto become some of Arteta's most-trusted stars.

The big clash between the sides that season was the FA Cup final in the prolonged 2019/20 campaign following the Covid-19 pandemic.

On the day, two Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang goals inspired a comeback as the Gunners secured their first major trophy in three years - providing significant vindication to the Arteta project at the club.

This was followed by a league double the next season, with the first game being a momentous victory for Arteta after he had come under significant pressure.

The Gunners had begun the 2020/21 campaign in dismal fashion and heading into the game at the Emirates on Boxing Day, they had just 14 points in 14 games and were only four clear of the bottom three.

Former Gunners defender Hector Bellerin scored a late equaliser in a clash in January 2020

Former Gunners defender Hector Bellerin scored a late equaliser in a clash in January 2020

Arteta was also under significant pressure in his role before a 3-1 win on Boxing Day in 2020

Arteta was also under significant pressure in his role before a 3-1 win on Boxing Day in 2020

There were calls for Arteta to go from Arsenal supporters and the Spaniard was perhaps helped by the fact games were being played behind closed doors due to pandemic restrictions.

Nevertheless, a 3-1 win thanks to goals from Alexandre Lacazette, Granit Xhaka and Saka ensured crucial three points which sparked five wins out of their next six matches as they eventually finished in eighth.

They also ended the season with a five-game winning streak which included their first victory at Stamford Bridge in 10 years in a 1-0 success.

However, despite the promising progress towards the end of that season, Arteta was again under the spotlight soon after as Arsenal dropped to the bottom of the table at the beginning of the 2021-22 campaign following three heavy defeats. 

This included a 2-0 loss at home to Chelsea in a game that is best known for Romelu Lukaku's sparkling second debut as he tore the Gunners' defence apart.

They soon recovered but came unstuck again after a three-game losing streak in April 2022 against Crystal Palace, Brighton and Southampton to put their top four hopes in jeopardy.

With an away trip to the Blues to come, many expected the Gunners' campaign to completely derail.

However, in a manic game, a rampant Arsenal - inspired by two goals from stand-in striker Eddie Nketiah - won 4-2.

This began a run of four successive wins, before costly defeats to Tottenham and Newcastle ultimately ended their top four hopes in cruel fashion. 

Eddie Nketiah scored twice at the back end of last season to re-light Arsenal's top four hopes

Eddie Nketiah scored twice at the back end of last season to re-light Arsenal's top four hopes

The 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge earlier this season was a superb display of class and control

The 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge earlier this season was a superb display of class and control

The 1-0 victory earlier this season just prior to the World Cup break in November was probably the most comfortable however, with the Gunners exuding complete control at Stamford Bridge in a game that saw the hosts restricted to just one shot on target.

It was one of many occasions Arteta's side have shown their title credentials and was the Spaniard's fifth win in his past six games against Chelsea.

However, with their title challenge now on the line, they have to return to winning ways tonight and most likely gain maximum points from their final five games to have any chance of edging out City.

And Arteta knows a thing or two about what it takes to beat the Blues.

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