When Chelsea and Arsenal clashed in the late 2000s, there was almost always a man responsible for tormenting the latter side. That man was, of course, Didier Drogba.
The former Ivory Coast international had some affinity for scoring against the Gunners. During his career, he scored 13 goals in 15 matches against Arsenal in all competitions.
That is, to put it mildly, quite a record. Little wonder 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; Drogba was known as a harasser of defenders, capable of using his physicality to take down opposing centre-backs.
Never was this more apparent than at Arsenal, who at the time preferred technical rather than physically imposing defenders. Which at least partially explains why he was so successful against them.
That was perhaps never more clear than in 2009 when the two sides clashed. Chelsea were top of the Premier League table, while Arsenal were 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. To mark exactly 12 years since that match, let’s take a look back at the London derby best remembered by Blues fans.
Chelsea and Arsenal had made contrasting starts to the season. Arsenal, for their part, had seen the sale of several notable players – including Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor to Manchester City.
Chelsea, for their part, had let go of some players, but also made some 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 the signing of a new centre-back, their defense was often weak. This was especially true against the bigger sides.
They started their season with back-to-back wins over Everton and Portsmouth, before losing back-to-back matches to Manchester United and Manchester City.
Before the Chelsea game, he dropped points in a 2–2 draw against West Ham and a 1–0 loss against Sunderland.
Chelsea, for their part, were in a better position. They had lost only twice in earlier games, and were comfortably top of the Premier League table. By that time life was going well under new manager Carlo Ancelotti.
Therefore, when the two sides met in the Premier League for the first time that season, it was the Blues who were arguably the favorites – despite the match being held at the Emirates Stadium.
Didier Drogba Runs Riot
The match started in typical fashion; Arsenal strung together some clever passing moves and Chelsea were ready to sit back and defend.
The home side played some good football to start with but could not get past the Blues’ dogged defence. In fact, Chelsea could have been awarded an early penalty but when Nicolas Anelka was fouled inside the box, the referee paid no attention.
Chelsea had another chance, with Didier Drogba getting a free header but sending it straight at Manuel Almunia. But his time to shine will come soon thereafter.
Ashley Cole, who was being booed by Arsenal fans, whipped in a superb cross which Drogba headed past Almunia. Chelsea were ahead, despite the home side having arguably dominated the game up to that point.
Cole was also in the center of the second goal. He whipped in another precise cross which Vermaelen turned into his own net. Half time and Chelsea were already well on their way to another win.
In response, Arsène Wenger brought on Theo Walcott from the bench after the break. The flamboyant winger did some pushing to get the home team going ahead, and Arsenal pulled a goal back… almost.
Andrey Arshavin fired the ball at the far post and the Gunners fans were jubilant but the goal was disallowed for a foul in the build-up.
What it did, however, was wake Chelsea up to the task yet again. He subsequently tightened the defense, denying the Gunners any chances.
Another goal came in the game, but it was scored by Chelsea. Drogba lined up on a free-kick and with precise accuracy beat Almunia and finished the game.
Chelsea were five points ahead of nearest rivals Manchester United at the top of the table. It was a position they held until the end of the season, going on to win the domestic double by claiming the FA Cup.
Arsenal, for their part, improved as the season progressed and finished the league in third place. However, their trophy-less streak would continue, adding further pressure on Wenger.