Chelsea and Arsenal meet with discontent raging

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

November.

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

players.”

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

points.”

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

player.”

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

Chelsea.

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

September.

”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

high.”

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

Saturday.

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

Chelsea.