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Bridge Banter: Chelsea can erase Villa nightmare by beating Arsenal in crunch Premier League match
The Blues breezed into the quarter-finals of the Champions League in midweek, swatting away any challenge from Galatasaray after smothering the Turkish team’s striker in love.
Every touch the returning hero Didier Drogba took in the pre-match warm-up was cheered, his name was sung from the stands and he was presented with an engraved, boxed silver boot to further distract him ahead of kick-off.
It worked perfectly. He barely got a chance to shine as he appeared to be surrounded by a band of middling team-mates who seemed incapable of holding the ball, never mind feeding penetrating passes forward. He even collected a yellow card for a fairly soft tackle late in the game.
In the end, Chelsea’s 2-0 victory amounted to a workout ahead of the trickier task of defeating Arsenal at the weekend to get a partially derailed title challenge back on track.
When the Gunners visit the Bridge on Saturday lunchtime, the Blues will have to try to erase the memories of a truly dreadful defeat at Villa Park last weekend.
With both Willian and Ramires shown red cards, and Jose Mourinho ordered off for complaining, it amounted to a complete implosion after weeks of smooth progress.
To lose one Brazilian may be unfortunate, but to lose two smacks of carelessness. Ramires’ straight red was particularly ugly – a nasty stamp on Villa’s Karim El Ahmadi.
But league bans don’t apply in European competition, so both Willian and Ramires lined up against Galatasaray as if nothing had happened.
It means that Villa Park is the only top-flight ground where The Special One has failed to gain three points.
The weekend’s 1-0 defeat by Villa gives Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal renewed hope of overhauling the Blues, with the Liverpool v Chelsea Anfield encounter at the end of April now appearing pivotal.
Tuesday night’s Turkish delight was the Blues’ 100th European fixture at the Bridge.
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