By Giuseppe Muro
Arsenal are embarking on a busy festive period where Arsène Wenger’s side face three games in just five days. First up is a London derby against Chelsea on Monday.
After a blistering start to the season, the Blues have stuttered recently and have gone an astonishing (for them) five Premier League games without a win.
But what has gone wrong for Carlo Ancelotti’s side and does a battling draw against Tottenham suggest they have turned the corner? We spoke to Dan Levene of the Fulham Chronicle to get a Chelsea perspective on the game.
The results haven’t been good in the last few weeks and I don’t think anyone will say they have been. A football team doesn’t become a bad football team overnight and at some point you expect Chelsea will pull out of this run. A lot of people have blamed the departure of Ray Wilkins and, certainly if you look at the results, the poor form does go back to Ray’s removal from Chelsea. I’m not terribly convinced Ray was that important but I suppose if you take a winning personality and a popular man out of a good side at a difficult time there will be some sort of knock-on. Perhaps confidence is the thing that has suffered a bit but at the same time there have been a lot of injuries.
REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
Chelsea’s second-half performance against Spurs was the sort of fighting, battling performance Chelsea fans have come to expect in recent years. Spurs are no mugs at the moment and to get a result at White Hart Lane is a good result. Arsenal of course play a completely different game and with the postponement of the Manchester United game hopefully there will be a bit more time to think about how the opposition will line up. Hopefully that will be to Chelsea’s benefit.
MAN OF THE MOMENT
It’s very good to see Frank Lampard will be making his first start since August against Arsenal. Lampard is an immense character and player and has been for a long time. If you look at the poor results Chelsea have had without him, Frank’s omission has got to be a big part of it. I’ve seen so many games over the last few weeks where you think ‘if only Frank had been there he could have made that crucial difference’. Hopefully he will be one of those players who can make the difference against Arsenal. Lampard and Essien are two great players. For me, Essien is the best midfielder in the world. He’s strong, tireless, he battles hard, passes well and to have him and Lampard back for such a big match is very important.
THE ONE TO WATCH
When Arsenal players see Didier Drogba lining up against them they must already be fairly worried. The guy has scored 13 goals in 13 games against Arsenal and seems to have the measure of the Arsenal back four. He hasn’t had the greatest run of late but give the guy some slack, he has had malaria. I don’t think there are too many players who could play Premier League football with that. He is another one whose strength will help Chelsea get that little advantage against one of their ‘Big Four’ rivals. Arsenal like to play flowing, expansive football and that is the worst thing you can do against Drogba. Purity of football allows tough characters like Drogba to just bash home goals. That record against Arsenal has to be frightening for a lot of Arsenal supporters.
THE MAN IN CHARGE
Ancelotti has just delivered the first double in Chelsea’s history. It’s going to take an awful lot more than a run of poor performances for Chelsea fans to start doubting him. In any case, now is not the time to start thinking about changing managers. You’ve got to pull yourself out of this bad run and turn things around. Ancelotti is a great manager and he has proved that time and time again. Sometimes his substitutions haven’t been as great as some fans would have liked. But if there is a man to get Chelsea out of this hole at the moment then it is Carlo.