Chelsea, Arsenal bid for supremacy

London, August 19:

Chelsea and Arsenal will be looking to strike a significant psychological blow against each other when the two London giants clash at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Jose Mourinho’s champions had the better of the teams’ Community Shield encounter two weeks ago as a Didier Drogba double helped the Blues to a 2-1 victory. Arsenal dominated the ball for long periods of that game though, and have not lost to Chelsea in the league for 10 years. But young Swiss defender Philippe Senderos will have to find a way to halt the rampaging Cote d’Ivoire striker if Arsenal are to upset the odds and deal an early blow to Chelsea’s hopes of retaining the title. Senderos was led a merry dance by Drogba in Cardiff’s Millennium stadium during the Community Shield and was brushed aside like a flimsy twig for both of the former Marseille man’s goals.

Chelsea should be boosted by new Ghanaian signing Michael Essien from French champions Lyon but he may have a hard task on his hands just winning a place in the side although Eidur Gudjohnson could be the man to make way in midfield. But Mourinho is already facing the biggest crisis of his managerial career at Chelsea as the seeds of discontent are starting to grow and flower. At the end of last season, centre-back William Gallas complained bitterly at being used as a make-shift left back, but having regained his place in the centre of defence at the start of this season, now it is Ricardo Carvalho’s turn to speak out against his manager.

With Essien’s arrival and the return of Hernan Crespo to the first-team fold, competition for places will get ever tougher and the number of disgruntled reserves is likely to increase as well.

Meanwhile, Arsenal forward Thierry Henry has signalled out fellow French international Claude Makelele as Chelsea’s key figure. Henry said: “I respect the guy and whoever loves Chelsea should respect what Makelele does. A lot of people talk about Terry, Lampard, Robben but for me Makelele just edges it a bit.” Arsenal’s late brace against Newcastle and Crespo’s last minute wonder strike agai-nst Wigan allowed last year’s top two to scrape home with opening day victories.