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Can Chelsea beat Arsenal without Didier Drogba?

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If Chelsea are to beat Arsenal on Saturday, they will have to do it without Didier Drogba, something they haven’t done in the league for 17 years.

The striker evidently bullied Arsenal’s defence in his eight-year spell in West London but not only did he score against them frequently, he also had a massive impact on the results as the stats below show.

Drogba’s league record v Arsenal

Played Won Drew Lost Scored Team scored Team conceded Points won
11 7 3 1 8 20 8 24/33

That means that Drogba only played in one defeat against Arsenal in 11 league games; that was the last appearance in December 2010. Also, out of the seven league victories he contributed to, he only failed to score in two of them.

In his time as a Chelsea player, he missed five league meetings with Arsenal. Chelsea did not win any of them.

Played Won Drew Lost Scored Team scored Team conceded Points won
5 0 2 3 N/A 5 9 2/15

Admittedly Drogba played many more games than he missed but it would certainly appear the team suffered on the occasions he was absent.

Drogba’s arrival at Stamford Bridge marked a change in fortune for Chelsea in games against Arsenal. When he signed in the summer of 2004, the Blues were on a 17 league-game winless streak against the Gunners.

That stretches back to the last time Chelsea beat Arsenal in the league without Drogba, in September 30 1995. That is almost 17 years to the day. Interestingly, that 1995/96 season was the one before Arsene Wenger took over as Arsenal manager and the last time Arsenal did not finish in the league’s top four. So Chelsea have failed to win the last 22 league games against Arsenal without Drogba.

This also means Arsene Wenger has never lost a league game to Chelsea when Drogba has not played.

Maybe it’s an omen for Chelsea that the last time was away from home, as were the two occasions where Drogba played and they won but he did not score.

We will have to wait until Saturday to see if Chelsea can win without him in the league against Arsenal for the first time in the Roman Abramovich era.

My prediction is a narrow win for Arsenal. 2-1.

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