Pierre-Emerick Aubamayeng dominated pre-match conversation as Chelsea prepare to welcome his former club Arsenal – and he will hope to be similarly prominent on the pitch.

Aubameyang was captain at Arsenal before a fallout with Mikel Arteta that saw him released from his contract and allowed to join Barcelona.

From there, he made his way to Chelsea this season, although he has only one Premier League goal so far for the Blues.

Arteta was understandably asked about Aubameyang ahead of this reunion, and he said of the striker’s Emirates Stadium departure: “It’s a decision that we had to take, and there are different parties involved.

“At the end of the day, when someone is not with us any more and being a player and having the role that he had at the club and how important he was, you always wish everybody the best.

“When someone makes that decision to move somewhere else, they need to enjoy their profession, and he seems to be happy.”

Graham Potter, the Chelsea coach, sought not to make Aubameyang the story as he too was asked about the meeting.

“I don’t think we should make it about him,” Potter said. “I think it’s about the team.

“He’s an important part of the team, and for us to get the result we want takes everybody, not just one person.

“I understand the interest is about him because it’s Arsenal and there’s a narrative about that. But as a team and a group we have to do well ourselves.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Chelsea – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Aubameyang seemingly missed Potter’s memo, as he took part in a television advert promoting the game and told Arsenal fans: “Nothing personal. I’m back, I’m Blue, I’m ready.” He will now have to back up those words on the pitch against the league leaders.

Arsenal – William Saliba

If any defender in the Premier League is capable of taking care of Aubameyang at his best, it is surely Saliba. The young France international has been the division’s premier center-back this season and should relish the opportunity to take on the ex-Arsenal skipper.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Chelsea have lost three of their last four Premier League games against Arsenal (W1), more than they had in their previous 17 against the Gunners (W9 D6 L2).

– Arsenal have won their last two Premier League away games against Chelsea, as many as in their previous 16 visits. They have not won three in a row at Stamford Bridge since April 1974.

– Each of Arsenal’s last six Premier League goals against Chelsea have been scored by English players, with Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Eddie Nketiah each netting twice. Just six of the Gunners’ previous 54 league strikes (excl. own goals) against the Blues between 1999 and 2020 were scored by Englishmen.

– Arsenal have won their last four Premier League London derbies, last winning more consecutively between April and October 2013 (five). They have won both such away games without conceding so far this season – they have never won three in a row while keeping a clean sheet each time before.

– Chelsea lost 4-1 against Brighton and Hove Albion last time out, last losing consecutive league games in December 2020 under Frank Lampard. However, at home the Blues are unbeaten in nine league games (W5 D4) since a 4-2 loss to Arsenal in April.