Branislav Ivanovic says Arsenal clash will be Chelsea's 'biggest challenge'

 

Branislav Ivanovic dubbed Chelsea's trip to Arsenal on Saturday as their “biggest challenge” so far this season after helping them stay top of the Barclays Premier League.

The European champions spluttered to a 1-0 win over Stoke on Saturday to ensure they ended the weekend a point clear of Manchester United at the summit.

Chelsea have enjoyed a near-perfect start to the title race in terms of results, winning four of their five games and keeping four clean sheets.

But they have yet to face any of the current top nine in the league and have not fared well against big teams in other competitions this term.

Full-back Ivanovic insisted it was far too early for Chelsea to be thinking about regaining the title they last won in 2010.

"We have the next game as a very great challenge for us in the Premier League - Arsenal away," he said.

"This is the first actual big game for us this season."

The 28-year-old added: "Our performances and quality - we know how it is.

"But we have to show everyone, and we have to show it every game.

"This is the biggest challenge. I think Arsenal will be a great challenge for us, and we have to really be ready for that."

Chelsea will need to play much better than they did on Saturday to get anything from the Emirates Stadium.

Their £130million attack huffed and puffed but it needed Ashley Cole's first goal in 28 months to snatch all three points.

Ivanovic, who could not have a more different scoring record from full-back, was full of praise for the man who plays on the opposite flank.

"For me, Ash is the best left-back in the world - for a long time," Ivanovic said.

"He is really great, and always makes a lot of good things for the team.

"We're really happy for him because, for defenders, it is always nice to score goals for the confidence. Ashley is really fantastic.

"He has the skill, he has the speed, he can run, he can go up front, he has the vision of the game, he defends well, he is quick. But I think all this is nothing new!"

With Saturday's game being a potential turning point in the title race, Cole and Ivanovic could both find themselves rested for tomorrow night's Capital One Cup clash with Wolves.

Manager Roberto Di Matteo has already confirmed he plans to field a mix of regulars, fringe men and youth-team players.

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links