On Wednesday evening, Antonio Conte's Chelsea will make the short trip to the Emirates to play Arsene Wenger's Arsenal for both side's first Premier League fixture of 2018 - and it's a big one.

These are two teams that are extremely familiar with each other. In 2017, the two sides contested against each other twice in the league – once in the 2016/17 season (Chelsea win) and once this season (nil-nil draw); in the FA Cup Final (Arsenal win); an international showpiece friendly in Beijing (Chelsea win); and in the Community Shield (Arsenal win on penalties) at the beginning of the season.

That means that this will be the 6th encounter since the February of 2017 - and the rate at which this fixture doesn't appear to be slowing down either, with the sides set to face each other TWO more times this month after being drawn to play each other in the two-legged Semi-Final of the League Cup. Those fixtures mean that Arsenal vs Chelsea is a match that will have been contested eight times in less than a year – across 4 different grounds in 5 different competitions!

With the race for Champions League positions appearing to be as competitive as it has been in years, there's everything to play for, with every point appearing like it may potentially prove vital.

Arsenal sit in 5th place on 38 points – currently 1 point ahead of Tottenham (who play Swansea tonight) in 6th and 3 points behind Liverpool in 4th following the disappointing New Year's Eve draw with West Bromwich Albion.

Chelsea are in a more comfortable 3rd position on 45 points but know that a win on Wednesday could lift them above Manchester United - whose form has been suffering as of-late despite yesterday's victory over Everton - into 2nd Place.

The Gunners will need resolve to regroup from the frustration of the West Brom draw. A poor refereeing decision to award a penalty in the final minutes of the match was all that stood between Arsenal and 3 points, despite a poor performance at the Hawthornes.

With no disrespect to West Brom, Sunday's match should have been an easy win for Arsenal, whereas this match against Chelsea is a much tougher preposition.

The Blues are one of few teams that can attest to having a similarly busy month to Arsenal, however their results are far rosier.

The current League Champions - although, not for long it would appear, with Manchester City's performances suggesting they could have their name on the trophy by around March - have been in good form of late, having won 4 matches and drew one since there shock defeat against David Moyes’ West Ham United in early December.

There last result is in sharp contrast to Arsenal's, with their game against Stoke City on Saturday ending 5-0, absolutely demolishing Mark Hughes low-flying side. Conte’s side were in devastating form, sitting 3 goals ahead within 25 minutes at Stamford Bridge.

The truth is, this, an incredibly difficult match-up, has become all the more important - potentially even entering "must-win" territory - following a series of poor league draws over the last month for Arsenal.

The games against West Ham, Southampton and West Brom were all inherently winnable, but due to a lack of clinical finishing and wasted strong spells of dominance, points were dropped and Arsenal find themselves teetering on the edge of beginning the year with a notable disadvantage against the teams above them in the league.

With the January transfer window now open and a new set of injuries to deal with, this is an Arsenal team in disarray.

There's a genuine selection crisis in defence, with Sead Kolasinac said to be out for "at least two weeks" according to Wenger due to an ankle injury. Nacho Monreal is also out with an ankle injury, and Wenger rates Laurent Koscielny's chances of playing at "around 30%" due to an Achilles problem.

Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud remain out, while Mesut Ozil has not trained since the Crystal Palace match, although will have a test before the match to determine his fitness.

And now that January has arrived, it is also time to head firstly address the elephant-in-the-(dressing)room at Arsenal - the futures of Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, whose tenure in Red shirts unsurprisingly dominated the pre-match managerial press conference.

Wenger admitted that he was unsure whether the pair - who will become free agents in the summer - could be tied down. The likelihood at the moment is that they will not - with their futures likely to also define Arsenal's transfer window. If reports are to be believed, Sanchez is of interest to Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

Wenger wanted to, naturally, focus on the match ahead, but the ferociously unsteady future of his star players is sure to be giving him a headache at the moment, although he did admit that no offers had been received for either player.

In terms of Chelsea's personnel, they are strong and have managed to navigate their way through the congested festive fixture list relatively unscathed in terms of injuries.

Striker Alvaro Morata represents perhaps the Blues most potent striking threat with 10 goals in the league this season since arriving from Real Madrid during the Summer. Playing with 3 at the back, the defenders haven't been short of helping out either with Cesar Azpilicueta chipping in with a very impressive 6 assists.

From set-pieces, Chelsea can be very frightening, with Marcos Alonso a danger, as well as Willian, who ran the game against Stoke. That's before even mentioning Eden Hazard, who was rested at the weekend in anticipation of this game.

Missing the game is Brazilian centre-back David Luiz, but there are plenty to fill in for him, with the aforementioned Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill, Antonio Rudiger and the returning Andreas Christensen all available to marshall the defence in front of Petr Cech's former understudy Thiabaut Courtois in goal.

All-in-all, this huge fixture is an intimidating one for Arsenal, and recent league form doesn't necessarily inspire confidence in a positive result. Being optimistic, a good result here would represent a fantastic way to kick-start the second half of the season.

Arsenal face Chelsea in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday the 3rd of December with kick-off at 7.45pm.