Chelsea facing striker crisis for Arsenal fixture

Frank Dalleres
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CHELSEA could be without any of their senior centre-forwards for Sunday’s Premier League summit clash at Arsenal after Didier Drogba became their latest injury victim.

Veteran Drogba, who has led the line in the last two Blues games while Diego Costa and Loic Remy have been sidelined, withdrew from a planned appearance in a charity game last night, citing an ankle problem.

The 37-year-old had been due to play alongside former France captain Zinedine Zidane and Brazil great Ronaldo in the Match Against Poverty in Saint Etienne, but announced his late withdrawal on Twitter yesterday.

Drogba’s setback raises the prospect of Chelsea being without any of their first-team strikers for the trip to Emirates Stadium, where they can take a major step towards clinching the title.

The runaway leaders have a 10-point advantage over Arsenal and can secure top-flight supremacy for the first time since 2010 by beating the Gunners and then Leicester three days later. Defeat in north London would leave Jose Mourinho’s side needing a maximum of nine points for an unassailable lead.

Both Costa and Remy are battling to return against Arsenal. Teenager Dominic Solanke, who has played just 17 minutes of senior football, was on the bench for Saturday’s 1-0 win over Manchester United, despite Mourinho giving Remy more than a 50-50 chance of featuring just 24 hours earlier. Costa is due to return to training this week following his latest hamstring problem.

Chelsea Under-18s, meanwhile, hold a commanding lead in the FA Youth Cup final after a 3-1 victory in the first leg at Manchester City last night. Striker Tammy Abraham netted twice while Solanke was also on target for the Blues.