More should unite Chelsea and Arsenal fans than divide them on
Sunday at a London derby being played with discontent raging at
both Premier League clubs.
Boos echoed around Stamford Bridge on Wednesday as Chelsea threw
away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Southampton.
”I will try to concentrate on the games, that is my job,”
interim manager Rafa Benitez said in response to the renewed jeers
from the fans he’s failed to win over since taking charge in
The draw was Chelsea’s second setback on Wednesday. Pep
Guardiola, who has been high on list to take over next season,
opted to join Bayern Munich earlier in the day.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had been expecting to face
Guardiola in the Premier League next season.
”He asked me a few times and told me a few times he would like
to come to England, so I am bit surprised he has chosen to go to
Germany,” Wenger said. ”It is not a backward step. In Germany,
maybe along with Spain they are a country with the best young
The former Barcelona coach had even been touted as a possible
replacement for Wenger at the Emirates Stadium as a trophy drought
stretching back to 2005 continues for the north London club.
It’s another gloomy season at Arsenal, with fans growing
increasingly restless at seeing the team languishing in sixth place
after taking just one point from its last two matches.
Despite its patchy form, Chelsea remains on course to capture
one of the four Champions League places next season as it sits
third in the standings.
Eight points might separate the London rivals, but Arsenal
midfielder Jack Wilshere is sure his side has the strength to get
the better of Chelsea.
”Chelsea don’t like playing against us,” Wilshere said. ”We
play football so if we can take the game to them and get in behind
them, we can cause problems.
”We have Theo Walcott’s pace and Santi Cazorla’s ability to get
into spaces … we have to take the game to them and play our
football because we’re a bit behind in the table and we need
Chelsea’s recent signing of Demba Ba has paid dividends, and
Arsenal could bolster its attacking options by bringing in Edinson
Cavani from Napoli this month.
”I like him as a player,” Wenger said. ”Will he cost a lot of
money? That’s for sure. Nobody would deny that. ”Our banker lives
just next to me at the moment and he is ready if we find the right
Regardless of any January additions to their squads, winning the
title appears to be beyond Chelsea and Arsenal.
Manchester United is leading the way, seven points ahead of
Manchester City, which hosts Fulham on Saturday, and 13 in front of
On Sunday, United travels to Tottenham, which is 15 points
adrift in fourth but confident for once facing Alex Ferguson’s side
after its first victory since 1989 at Old Trafford in
”That win stood us in good stead,” Tottenham winger Gareth
Bale said. ”It gave us confidence and belief to do what we’ve done
so far this season. We haven’t lost in a while and confidence is
United labored to a 1-0 victory over West Ham in an FA Cup
third-round replay on Wednesday on a night when top scorer Robin
van Persie was given a rare rest.
Ferguson maintains, though, that the team hasn’t been over
reliant on Van Persie since he joined from Arsenal in August.
”I don’t go along with the idea we have become a one-man
team,” Ferguson said, pointing to the goals contributed by Javier
Hernandez and Wayne Rooney.
In the relegation battle, France striker Loic Remy is set to
make his debut for last-place Queens Park Rangers at West Ham on
Reading, which is two points ahead of QPR, is at Newcastle, and
Aston Villa, which is five points off the bottom, travels to West
Bromwich Albion. Wigan is only out of the drop zone on goal
difference heading into the match at Sunderland on Saturday, when
Liverpool takes on Norwich and Swansea faces Stoke.
In the Monday match, fifth-place Everton is at Southampton,
which is three points above the relegation zone after drawing at