Robin van Persie
Robin van Persie has scored 25 goals in 26 matches during 2011. REUTERS

Arsenal will be hoping to build on their improved recent form when they make the short trip across London to face Chelsea in Saturday's lunchtime kick-off.

Arsene Wenger will need no reminding that his side's poor start to the season means Saturday's match is a must-win for the Gunners.

Arsenal are currently up to seventh in the Premier League table after their worst ever start to a season saw them lose four games, including an 8-2 defeat at Manchester United.

But Wenger will be encouraged by his side's recent form, winning seven of their last eight matches in all competitions, as well as Chelsea's poor defensive record of late - the Blues have kept just one clean sheet in their last eight fixtures at Stamford Bridge.

Nevertheless, Andre Villas-Boas' side remain unbeaten at home this season and the Gunners will have to overcome their own poor away record if they are to prove their top-four credentials.

Arsenal have failed to win any of their last eight Premier League away matches but a run of four straight wins has raised fans' hopes that the club have now turned a corner.

Wenger will look to in-form striker Robin van Persie to fire his side to derby victory. The Dutchman has hit 25 goals in 26 matches during 2011, scoring 11 in his last 12 away games. The return of Thomas Vermaelen to the squad will provide further encouragement for the under-fire Arsenal boss.

Speaking at the club's AGM Thursday, Wenger said his team are "ready for a fight" on Saturday.

"The team is on the right way, it has a fantastic attitude and spirit. Where we will finish at the end of the season? Frankly, I don't know.

"But I know just one thing that these players we have at the moment are ready for a fight, because I see them every day and they are ready to have a go."

For Chelsea, the fall-out from the 1-0 defeat to QPR last weekend continues to dominate preparations for Saturday's game.

The FA's investigation of John Terry over his alleged racial comments to QPR defender Anton Ferdinand remains on-going; while the suspension of Didier Drogba means the home side will have to do without their most consistent derby performer - the Ivorian has an impressive record against the Gunners, scoring 13 goals in 14 appearances against them.

Team News

Arsenal will give Thomas Vermaelen a late fitness test after the defender limped out of their midweek Carlin Cup game against Bolton.

"He [Vermaelen] is not injured," Wenger said. "He came off with a calf problem on Tuesday in the Carling Cup.

"It was cramp because he has not played for a long time and he only had one training session. As I say, he is not injured, but he might be a little bit short for a game of that intensity."

Carl Jenkinson (knee) is doubtful but Park Chu-young could feature after impressing in the 2-1 win over Bolton.

Kieran Gibbs (stomach), Bacary Sagna (broken leg) and Jack Wilshire (ankle) remain side-lined.

Villas-Boas is expected to make a late decision over Chelsea captain John Terry's participation, with the Portuguese undecided whether the defender is in the right mental state to play.

In defence, the Chelsea boss is buoyed by the return of Ashley Cole and Jose Bosingwa while Fernando Torres has served his three-match domestic suspension and is expected to partner Daniel Sturridge up front.

Ramires (knee), Hilario (back) and Michael Essien (knee) are all long-term absentees.

Chelsea probable XI:
Cech; Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Cole; Meireles, Mikel, Lampard; Sturridge, Torres, Mata.

Arsenal probable XI: Szczesny; Koscielny, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Santos; Walcott, Song, Ramsey, Arteta, Arshavin; Van Persie.