The eyes of many football fans may be temporarily distracted by the Ryder Cup this weekend, as golf’s biggest event takes centre stage from the Celtic Manor, but for Chelsea Football Club, all involved must ensure they are fully focused on this Sunday’s crucial match at Stamford Bridge.
Despite their slip up at home to West Brom last weekend, Arsenal are without question legitimate contenders for the 2010-11 Barclays Premier League title. After falling just short last season, the Gunners have added real quality in the likes of Laurent Koscielny and Marouane Chamakh to their squad and with influential captain Cesc Fabregas poised to return, it will be a huge test of Chelsea’s title credentials on Sunday. As impressive as the start made by those in Chelsea shirts was – the Blues won their opening five games with a goal difference of plus twenty – it could ultimately count for nothing if Arsenal head home to watch the closing stages of the Ryder Cup with three points under their belt.
Should that happen and Manchester United win at Sunderland the previous day, Chelsea would be top of the table only on goal difference and the emphatic nature of their opening victories would count for almost nothing. The Blues must therefore ensure that they are on the top of their game and ensure that no slip up takes place.
My feeling is that Chelsea will win the game as the players will feel they have a point to prove. They didn’t get the respect their early form deserved with critics proclaiming that they “hadn’t been tested yet”, an accusation which was further supported with last weekends loss to Manchester City. In truth, it was a very poor performance with too many players not showing what they are capable of.
Worryingly for Arsenal, one such player was Didier Drogba. The last thing Arsene Wenger will be wanting is a fired up Ivorian with a point to prove as the Gunners have simply been unable to handle the hitman. I would back Drogba to score a double in a 3-1 Chelsea victory, a result which would see Arsenal fall 7 points behind their title rivals. With the players then heading off on international duty with the Euro 2012 qualifiers taking centre stage, this would be a huge psychological strike in the title race. Arsenal would be no means out of the title race, but the early season optimism would be well and truly knocked out of them and it would take a lot of mental strength for them to haul themselves back into the mix.