Chelsea’s meek defence of their Premier League title has made them the laughing stock of the season so far but interim manager Guus Hiddink has a chance to restore some faith in his Blues as they head to the Emirates to take on Arsenal this weekend.
On paper the Blues have the players at their disposal to more than match the Gunners but how have the teams compared over the years?
Here we take a look at some of the standout players from both sides since the dawn of the Premier League to put together the Ladbrokes News Arsenal v Chelsea all-time XI.
Arsene Wenger gets the nod over Jose Mourinho in the dugout – Invincibles and all that – while Denis Bergkamp, Ian Wright, David Seaman, Clause Makelele and Marcel Desailly make the bench.
Here’s the starting line-up:
GK: Petr Cech
But for a couple of understandably hesitant seasons Cech has been the epitome of consistency between the sticks. He has fought back admirably from his serious head injury to reach the high standards he set before that infamous clash and he could prove the final piece of the jigsaw that finally sees the title return to north London.
LB: Ashley Cole
Who else could conceivably take this spot? The most decorated player in the history of the FA Cup, the only man to consistently get the better of Cristiano Ronaldo and but for the occasional ‘Cashley’ jibe a player held in high esteem by fans of both sides.
CB: John Terry
Mr Chelsea has never been the most popular footballer but even those who dislike him have to respect his quality. Terry never gives anything less than his all, is willing to put his body on the line for the cause and has popped up with some vital goals for the Blues over the years.
CB: Tony Adams (c)
The lynchpin of that famous Arsenal back four, Adams not only played at the highest standard himself but expected it and brought it out of his team-mates too. A born leader, the Gunners legend gets the captain’s armband here too.
RB: Lee Dixon
Unlike Manchester United, who had the reliable Gary Neville for over a decade, neither of these London clubs have someone who instantly springs to mind for this role. They have had some solid performers at right but the closest thing to Neville either club can claim is four-time Premier League and three-time FA Cup winner Dixon, who played over 450 games for the Gunners.
LM: Gianfranco Zola
So often a top contender for best ever Premier League import the diminutive Italian was a magician with the ball at his feet. His mesmerising runs scored and created countless goals for the Blues in the pre-Abramovich era and few have, if any, have matched him since – even with all that money.
CM: Frank Lampard
A total of 211 goals from 648 games for Chelsea, picking up three league titles, four FA Cups, a Europa League and a Champions League winner’s medal during a 13-year stay at Stamford Bridge Lampard was always going to be the first name on this team sheet.
CM: Patrick Vieira
Every player involved in Arsenal’s Invincibles season played their part but Vieira personified that side and was the complete midfielder. A sometime insurmountable obstacle in defence the Frenchman could create waves of attacks seemingly from nowhere and chipped in with his fair share of goals too.
RM: Robert Pires
Wenger landed Pires from Marseille for £6m in 2000 beating off stiff competition from Real Madrid and Juventus and what a coup it proved to be. Pires not only netted 62 Premier League goals from 199 appearances but his near-telepathic understanding of Henry’s game saw him create countless more for his club and country team-mate.
ST: Didier Drogba
The giant Ivorian smashed 164 goals in a 381-game Chelsea career and Arsenal fans more than any were glad to see the back of him when he left Stamford Bridge in 2012. With 13 strikes against the Gunners Drogba hasn’t scored more against any other club.
ST: Thierry Henry
With 226 goals in all competitions from 369 games as a Gunner Henry is arguably the greatest striker to have ever graced the English game. A big game player the Frenchman netted nine times against both Chelsea and Manchester United during his time at Highbury and the Emirates. His greatest achievements arguably came with the France national team and Barcelona but his best years were undoubtedly spent in north London.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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