Didier Drogba scored twice as Chelsea ran riot over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on this day (November 29) in 2009, beating the hosts 3-0.
When Chelsea and Arsenal clashed in the late 2000’s, there was almost always one man who was responsible for tormenting the latter side. That man, of course, was Didier Drogba.
The former Ivory Coast international had something of an affinity for scoring against the Gunners. In the course of his career, he scored 13 goals in 15 games against Arsenal across competitions.
That is, to put it mildly, quite the record. Little wonder then that the sight of Drogba’s name on the teamsheet was enough to make Arsenal fans nervous.
It wasn’t just the goals he scored either; Drogba was renowned as a tormentor of defenders, able to use his physicality to bully opposing centre-backs.
This was never more evident than against Arsenal, who at the time preferred technical rather than physically imposing defenders. Which at least partly explains why he was so successful against them.
Perhaps never was this more evident than when the two sides clashed in 2009. Chelsea were top of the Premier League table, whereas Arsenal were in fourth. A win for the latter side would signal their ambitions to challenge for the title.
Instead, they ended up on the wrong side of a 3-0 scoreline, with Didier Drogba scoring twice. With exactly 12 years having passed since that match took place, let us now take a look back at a London derby fondly remembered by Blues fans.
Chelsea and Arsenal had made contrasting starts to the season. Arsenal, for their part, had seen a number of notable player sales – including that of Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor to Manchester City.
Chelsea, for their part, had also let go of a few players but also made a couple of notable signings, including back-up goalkeeper Ross Turnbull and versatile winger Yuri Zhirkov.
Arsenal, despite losing key players, only signed Thomas Vermaelen from Ajax. And despite signing a new centre-back, their defence was often frail. This was especially true against the bigger sides.
They began their season with back-to-back wins over Everton and Portsmouth, before losing back-to-back matches to Manchester United and Manchester City.
Prior to the Chelsea game, they dropped points against West Ham in a 2-2 draw and slumped to a shock 1-0 defeat against Sunderland.
Chelsea, for their part, were in better shape. They had only lost twice in the games prior, and were comfortably atop the Premier League table. Life under new manager Carlo Ancelotti was going well till that point.
Therefore, when the two sides met in the Premier League for the first time that season, it was the Blues who were arguably favourites – despite the match being at the Emirates Stadium.
The match began in typical fashion; Arsenal strung together some slick passing moves and Chelsea were content to sit back and defend.
The home team played some good football to start with, but could not get past the Blues’ dogged defence. Indeed, Chelsea could have had an early penalty but the referee took no mind when Nicholas Anelka was fouled inside the box.
Chelsea fashioned another chance, with Didier Drogba getting a free header but sending it straight to Manuel Almunia. But his time to shine would come shortly thereafter.
Ashley Cole, who was being booed by the Arsenal fans, whipped in a sumptuous cross that Drogba powered past Almunia with a header. Chelsea were ahead, despite the home side arguably dominating the game till that point.
Cole was at the centre of the second goal too. He whipped in another pinpoint accurate cross that Vermaelen turned into his own net. Half-time and Chelsea were already on their way to another win.
In response, Arsene Wenger brought on Theo Walcott from the bench after the break. The speedy winger did give the home side some thrust going forward, and Arsenal did manage to pull a goal back… almost.
Andrey Arshavin put the ball in at the far post and Gunners fans were rejoicing but the goal was disallowed due to a foul in the build-up.
What it did do, however, was wake Chelsea up to the task still at hand. They duly tightened up the defence, denying the Gunners any more chances in the aftermath.
Another goal did come in the game, but it was Chelsea who scored it. Drogba stood over a free-kick and shot with pinpoint accuracy to beat Almunia and kill off the game.
Chelsea were five points ahead of nearest rivals Manchester United at the top of the table. It was a position they hung on to till the end of the season, going on to win a domestic double by also claiming the FA Cup.
Arsenal, for their part, would improve as the season went on and finish the league in third place. However, their trophy-less streak would carry on, piling on further pressure on Wenger.