Drogba and Arsenal – Still a Better Love Story Than Twilight

The man has been made to stay out of action for most of the season, having made only 17 appearances in the Premier League this season, usually coming on as a substitute.

Didier Drogba has only managed to net 3 goals for Chelsea so far this season. However, if Arsene Wenger’s mind is pre-occupied with the fear of the 37 year-old, before the London Derby on Sunday, it won’t be surprising. Didier has always given the Arsenal side a nightmare whenever they stepped up to play against Chelsea, having Drogba as their frontman. He has always done enough to make Wenger regret his decision, which is probably the worst of all that he has taken in his entire spell at Arsenal, so far.

As of a statement released by Wenger in 2009, he said:

‘We watched him carefully when he was at Le Mans. It was not only us who watched him. But we felt he might not be completely ready.’

‘It was a mistake but, when you are in football, everyone can understand. We had Thierry Henry. We said we would follow Drogba’s progress. We never ruled him out.’

Yes, indeed it was a mistake when he rejected to sign a 23 year old Drogba for a transfer fee of just 100,000 euros. Even more so, when Drogba went on to score more goals against Arsenal in the Premier League, than he did against any other top club in the league, for their London rivals Chelsea.

A table showing Drogba’s scoring record against the top five in the League:

Opponent        Goals        Games played        Goals per game
Arsenal                 8                           11                                  0.73
Man City               5                           13                                 0.38
Spurs                     3                           14                                 0.21
Liverpool              2                           12                                 0.17
Man Utd                1                           11                                 0.09

(Stats by: Daily Mail)

As of the stats gathered by Daily Mail in August 2013, Chelsea’s record in previous 35 fixtures with and without Drogba were as follows:

Arsenal has always been on the target of the Ivorian striker, having scored 15 goals in as many numbers of games played throughout his career. The latest amongst them came in August 2013 as a Galatasaray player, when he scored a brace against the North Londoners to clinch the Emirates Cup for his team at Emirates Stadium in front of almost 60,000 supporters. He also scored 5 doubles in the Chelsea shirt during his first spell at the club, with a record of 13 goals in 14 games.

It all started long back on August 7, 2005, when he scored 2 goals in the 2-1 win over Arsenal in the Community Shield. And on the 21st of the same month, he again broke the hearts of Arsenal faithful with his goal in the 58th minute of the first Premier League game between the two sides of the season. The goal became the deciding factor of the match as the final score read 1-0 in favour of Chelsea, and Drogba became the man to clinch Chelsea’s first win over the Gunners after almost 10 years in the League.

And he didn’t seem to stop at that, as he stole the Carling Cup in 2007 from Wenger’s men with yet another brace in the final. Theo Walcott had opened the scoring for Arsenal in the 12th minute, but Drogba stepped up to equalize for his team just eight minutes later. The comeback was completed with just 6 minutes from the time, as he headed the second for Chelsea and confirmed another trophy coming to the Bridge.

As if the new comeback kings were arising, other than Manchester United, when on March 23, 2008 Chelsea made yet another comeback against Arsenal to win it by 2-1 and end Arsenal’s title hopes. All thanks to Didier Drogba once again, who found an equalizer for the Blues in the 73rd minute. He then clinched a winner in the 82nd minute, to mark the completion of a late comeback.

In the semifinal of the 2009 FA Cup, the Gunners took an early lead through a Theo Walcott deflected shot but had struggled against their West London counterparts since then. Florent Malouda equalized for Chelsea just before the half time. And once again it was Drogba to put another end on Arsenal’s hopes for a silverware. His winner in the 84th minute put Chelsea in the final against Everton, which the Blues went on to win with the same scoreline.

Chelsea registered a couple of emphatic wins over Arsenal in their Premier League winning campaign of 2009-10 season. The first of the two fixtures at the Emirates, saw the visitors Chelsea registering a 3-0 win. Didier opened the scoring for the Blues in the 41st minute as he netted an Ashley Cole cross inside the top corner and sealed the 3-0 win with a late 25 yard free-kick. The fixture at Stamford Bridge had the visitors Arsenal returning empty handed from a must-win game to keep their title hopes alive. It was Drogba once again netted home a double within the first 24 minutes, in the 2-0 win.

In October 2010, Drogba opened the scoring for the Blues in yet another 2-0 win over Arsenal, when he flicked in a near-post cross from Ashley Cole in the 39th minute.

This was also the Ivorian’s last goal against Arsenal as a Chelsea player. He went on to win Champions League with the Blues in May 2012, after which he eventually left the club. Then after joining Galatasaray from Shanghai Shenhua he again scored a double against his old favourites, Arsenal, to win the Emirates Cup for his team.

Drogba didn’t get to feature in the 2-0 win over Arsenal where the Gunners were defeated by an Eden Hazard penalty and a Diego Costa strike. The injury to Loic Remy and Diego Costa, two of the Chelsea’s leading strikers, would have awarded him with a chance to feature against Arsenal on Sunday. But as of a latest tweet by the 37 year-old, he has developed an ankle injury for himself.

But whether he is there in the squad for Sunday’s game or not, imagine how Arsene Wenger would wish for his ankle injury news to be true as this is the stage where he wouldn’t be able tolerate anything bad happening to his team’s uncertain title race. And if that happens, brace yourselves for an even better post-match interview by Mr. Wenger than that of Mr. Louis van Gaal!

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Edited By: Harshal Ahire

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