Arsenal will aim for nothing less than maximum points when a struggling Fulham side visit the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
Arsene Wenger’s team endured two embarrassing defeats in quick succession last month, surrendering their 17-year unbeaten run at home to local rivals Spurs in a 3-2 defeat in the process.
That derby shock was quickly followed by 2-0 defeat away to Braga in the Champions League, a match that also put influential captain Cesc Fabregas out of action for up to three weeks.
But Arsenal bounced back with a 4-2 win away to Aston Villa on Saturday and followed it up with a 2-0 victory at home to Wigan in a Carling Cup quarter-final on Tuesday.
Chelsea’s poor form has seen Arsenal draw level with the champions on 29 points, with both teams two points behind leaders Manchester United.
With Sir Alex Ferguson’s side heavy favourites up against promoted Blackpool in the late kick-off, Wenger will be well aware of the importance of collecting all three points against Fulham in order to keep pace with the league leaders.
Fabregas, along with Abou Diaby and Thomas Vermaelen, all miss out through injury, while Emmanuel Eboue and Manuel Almunia remain doubtful.
Fulham arrive at the Emirates without a win since October and are yet to record a victory on the road this season.
They did manage a 0-0 draw with Newcastle in their last match away from home, but succumbed to a heavy 4-1 defeat at home to Manchester City a week later. A 1-1 draw at home to Birmingham City last time out will do little to boost Mark Hughes’ confidence ahead of a daunting trip to north London.
Ex-Arsenal man Philippe Senderos has missed the entire season due a calf injury and will not make a return to his former club, while forwards Moussa Dembele and Bobby Zamora are also ruled out.
If Chelsea and Manchester United slip-up and Arsenal win, the Gunners could go top, while the best Fulham can realistically hope for is to escape with a draw.