Carlo Ancelotti is expected to lead Chelsea into their meeting with Arsenal at Stamford Bridge, despite enduring the trauma of losing his father Guiseppe this week. The 51-year-old will return to England shortly after the family funeral in Italy, and join up with his players and staff in the team hotel the night before the game.
Ancelotti's assistant has conceded the whole squad has been affected by the manager's personal grief. "Carlo arrives back in the country on Saturday and will join us in the hotel on Saturday evening," said Ray Wilkins.
"He will be on the sidelines on Sunday. He might come back on Saturday night and not feel up to it, but please God that's not the situation. He's football daft, it's his passion, so he'll want to be on that touchline on Sunday.
"The players were down yesterday to be perfectly honest. They have a fantastic rapport with Carlo and they were saddened by the news. So yesterday's session probably wasn't quite as bright as it might have been. But today they will be back focused on the game."
Should Ancelotti return to his club duties, his primary aim will be to ensure his team build on their midweek victory over Marseille in the UEFA Champions League, which came suffering back-to-back defeats - by Newcastle United in the League Cup and Manchester City in the Premier League - on the domestic front.
Chelsea will be boosted by the return of Didier Drogba, suspended for the visit of the French champions, and while he will start, Ancelotti will expect an improved performance from the Ivorian, who disappointed at Eastlands. The 32-year-old striker has traditionally enjoyed his meetings with Arsenal, and last season scored four of the five goals the Blues netted against the Gunners.
"He scores against everybody because he is a world-class footballer," said Wilkins. "He always does extremely well in big games. I think he is a player that rises to the occasion and with the spotlight on us he will do that on Sunday."
Wenger confident of victory
Chelsea stand three points clear at the head of the table despite last weekend's defeat, because of Arsenal and Manchester United's failure to take full advantage of the slip. Arsene Wenger's troops unexpectedly fell 3-2 at home to West Bromwich Albion although, like the Blues, they returned to form in the Champions League, beating Partizan in Belgrade.
A lengthy injury list will do nothing to help Arsenal's chances of building on that result, with captain Cesc Fabregas just one of a number of key players expected to miss the game. Wenger, however, believes his side can still pull off a win despite the loss of the Spain midfielder to a hamstring problem.
"I believe we have enough strength to win the game," said the Frenchman. "If we turn up with a great performance - and I am convinced we will - we will beat them.
"Football is down to the performance on the day. Have we the potential to beat Chelsea? I say yes. Are Chelsea a good team? I say yes, but we can beat a good team."
Keeper Manuel Almunia is still injured, so Lucasz Fabianski will continue in goal following his heroics in Belgrade. "He had a good game and can just add another good game to the first one," added Wenger.
"That's what I want him to do and I am convinced he can do that. Our job is about grabbing your chance when you have it. You must be ready the day you have your chance."