Posted on November 30, 2009
Chelsea striker Didier Drogba reckons the Blues now have the mental edge over their rivals in the race for the Premier League title.
The Blues restored their advantage over Manchester United to five points with an impressive 3-0 win at Arsenal, which leaves the Gunners some 11 points off the pace, albeit having played a match less.
Drogba – whose brace at Emirates Stadium continued his fine form against Arsene Wenger’s side – believes victories over all three of their traditional rivals this season, without conceding, shows Carlo Ancelotti’s men have the making of champions.
“Arsenal played their game, but we were stronger than them,” said the Ivory Coast international, who now has 10 goals in 11 games against the Gunners.
“Every time we had the chance to score we did. We took our chances.
“Physically we defended well and were really strong, mentally as well.
“I don’t know about Arsenal, but it is our strength to perform when it matters.
“Even against Manchester United, when the game was really difficult, we won.
“We know how to go through difficult periods when the game is hard.
“That is why when we get a chance we know how important it is to score.”
Despite confidence in his teammates, Drogba, 31, knows full well the battle for the championship is not yet won.
However, looking down on the rest of the chasing pack rather than playing catch-up makes a big difference.
“The lead is not enough, but at the same time it’s a good gap. We have to keep winning our games,” said Drogba, one of several Chelsea players who will be away at the African Nations Cup during January.
“When you are top of the league, it is good – the others have to chase us. They have to produce and do more than us to win games.
“It is true that Manchester are still there.
“We were in their position last year, behind and chasing.
“It is very difficult and now they have to come and catch us.
“I hope we have the team to stay ahead for the rest of the season.”
Chelsea certainly showed plenty of character at Emirates Stadium, weathering an early spell of pressure from the home side in a downpour.
Former Arsenal left-back Ashley Cole was resoundingly jeered every time he touched the ball, but had the last laugh at the final whistle.
Many Gunners fans have never forgiven the England international, who came up through the Highbury youth ranks, for the way in which he left to join Chelsea, and collect a much-bigger pay check, during August 2006 – a deal which saw defender William Gallas move in the opposite direction.
However, Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard, back from a thigh injury, is full of praise for Cole’s determination, the defender having a hand in the opening two goals.
“I don’t think booing ever works. I don’t know when people will learn that it’s not the way to do it,” said Lampard, himself a target in the past for abuse from the terraces.
“I think the best thing is to stay quiet, watch the game and cheer on your own team.
“Putting all your efforts into just getting someone psyched up to do a good job against your team is obviously the wrong way to go about it.”
Lampard added: “Ash is very experienced with dealing with it – he’s had it a few times now and it obviously spurs him on to put in performances like he did.
“He’s shown his quality for a long time. For probably the last two years he’s been completely out on his own as the best left-back in the world.”