I'm not even 100 per cent, says Arsenal's nemesis

After scoring 12 goals in 10 starts against the Gunners, Didier Drogba is ready to inflict more pain today

Standing next to him it is impossible not to be impressed by the sheer physical presence. Didier Drogba is the sort of figure that the Sunderland manager, Steve Bruce, likes to call admiringly"a beast of a man". Pity the centre-halves on whom he is suddenly bearing down; for, although a compassionate man off the field, he does not do pity for opponents, especially when they are wearing the red and white of today's opponents, Arsenal.

In 10 starts he has knocked 12 goals past them, including two in each of his side's victories last season, by 3-0 and 2-0. Chelsea have won the past four meetings by an aggregate of 11-2, Drogba scoring five ofthose goals.

Whether through genuine modesty or not wishing to tempt fate, he does not care to make too much of the fact: "I can say that I'm a bit lucky because I've scored a few goals against them. With that, every game is different. I remember some games where I struggled against Arsenal. This one will be a different one, I don't know how it's going to end."

The more pessimistic Arsenal followers, aware of what humble West Bromwich Albion did to their defence last weekend, must feel that they already know. Of course, even Drogba can suffer an off-day. He did so in his last game, hauled off to his displeasure at Manchester City after an unconvincing 75 minutes as Chelsea went down to their first Premier League defeat following an unblemished five-match start.

It was a useful reminder, he suggests, that complacency is a trap champions can easily fall into, especially when they have been knocking in goals at will. "We could have done better," he admits of that performance. "It's good that this kind of defeat happens now because we still have time to learn from these mistakes, and not two or three games to the end of the season. I don't mind losing against Manchester City if I win the League at the end of the season. It's not a problem."

It would have been more of one had Arsenal, at home to West Bromwich, or Manchester United, at Bolton, been able to extract the advantage they should have done. Yet neither could. In the meantime all three have come away with midweek Champions' League victories, though Chelsea benefited from minimal travel and were on their own admission able to ease up during the 2-0 home win against Marseille.

Suspended for two European games, Drogba was a mere spectator on Tuesday, taking the pitch only to receive a hero's reception from both sets of supporters; at Marseille he once scored 34 times in a season, and promised Jose Mourinho – then at Porto – that one day they would work together. It cost Chelsea £24 million but became a special relationship, even though it was under Carlo Ancelotti's freer-scoring regime last season that the Ivorian exceeded his Marseille record with a total of 37 during the course of it; the last of them winning the FA Cup final to complete the club's first Double.

For most players a short break at this time of the season tends to be welcome after a rush of games. Drogbais not so sure about the benefits, having broken his arm in the build-up to the World Cup and then undergone a hernia operation afterwards. "It's a strange start of the season for me," he said. "Even if I scored goals and I made some assists, I'm not really 100 per cent. With surgery I missed the pre-season, so it's a bit difficult to catch up. I hope that in maybe one, two weeks I will be better."

Woe betide the opposition at that point. In the meantime he says of today's game: "I won't say that it's a critical game because the season is long. Remember last year that Arsenal were 10 points behind usand they came back and they were fighting for the League. Three games to go they were still in the race. So it's going to be an important game. But not the one that's going to say that Chelsea is going to be champions or the one to say that Arsenal is going to be finished for the season."

"Drogba is a winner," Arsène Wenger has said. Not today, Arsenal must hope. Not again.

Chelsea v Arsenal is live on Sky Sports 2 from 3.30pm today (kick-off 4pm)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
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

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test