History at Emirates smiles on Chelsea
LONDON // While Chelsea are enduring their worst run of form for 12 years, tonight's trip to London and title rivals Arsenal provides them with some comfort in statistics.
The Premier League champions have had a Midas touch over Arsenal in recent times, crushing the Gunners 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium last season and 4-1 in the previous campaign.
Chelsea are unbeaten against Arsene Wenger's men in five matches in all competitions and Arsenal have not managed a goal against their rivals in almost five hours of football
It is that sort of record, according to captain John Terry, that is giving Chelsea the belief that they can get a positive result to reverse their run of only one win in their past seven games
"We think we can go there and do what we did last year," he told his club's website. "If we're not thinking that, we shouldn't be playing."
Chelsea have not tasted victory in any competition for more than a month. That was not helped by the postponement of last week's home clash with Manchester United, who are now six points ahead of Chelsea after their 2-0 victory over Sunderland yesterday.
"Everyone is in the right frame of mind; it will be two weeks by the time the game comes around since we've played," Terry said. "We're raring to go and want to get off to a flying start."
Chelsea have found the net only four times and kept just one clean sheet in that seven-game period, which coincided with injuries to the key men Frank Lampard, Michael Essien and Terry.
But all their star names are back for tonight's game against a side who have scored plenty of goals but have been unable to keep them out at the other end.
"Defensively, they've conceded goals, and with our strike force and the threat we pose opposition sides all the time, one goal and a bit of confidence and everything is looking bright for us again," Terry said.
"It just takes that one thing to set it off, and hopefully a goal away at Arsenal will do that. And we want to get back to keeping clean sheets."
Lampard will return to the Chelsea line-up after his four-month injury absence, and Carlo Ancelotti, the Chelsea manager, believes the midfielder could prove decisive in reversing the club's fortunes.
The England international has been sidelined by hernia surgery and a groin injury and his eye for goal and energetic displays have been sorely missed during Chelsea's dismal run.
"It's very important to have him in our attacking play and when we have the ball. That will increase our possibility to score," Ancelotti said.
"Having him back will be fantastic news. He will be able to play. He's fit. He's excited. It's very difficult to find this kind of player who has the capability of scoring 20 goals. He has character, ability, he always runs and works hard.
"He's so professional. In the [transfer] market there is no player capable of replacing Lampard."
Midnight, Abu Dhabi Sports 5
Alex Song v Frank Lampard
Lampard returns to Chelsea’s starting line-up for the first time in four months. His goals have been missed as the champions’ form has tailed off. Tasked with shackling his forward runs is the Cameroonian Song, who is having his best season for Arsenal.
Everyone knows Arsenal play some of the prettiest football in the league, but their deficiencies have been consistently exposed in games against Chelsea. Didier Drogba, in particular, has been a nemesis and one feels that if Arsenal can starve him of the ball, it will go a long way towards helping them to victory.
Arsenal’s last four league games against Chelsea have resulted in four defeats, 11 goals conceded and just one scored. They have only won one of the last seven home games against their rivals.
Arsenal (4-5-1) Fabianski; Sagna, Koscielny, Squillaci, Clichy; Song, Wilshere, Fabregas, Nasri, Arshavin; Chamakh
Chelsea (4-3-3) Cech; Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole; Mikel, Essien, Lampard; Anelka, Malouda, Drogba
• Drogba has netted eight times against Arsenal, more than against any other side.
• If the title race is a three-horse race, then form does not favour Arsenal – they have lost 10 and drawn one in the last 11 meetings against Chelsea and Manchester United.
Published: December 27, 2010 04:00 AM