Frank Lampard has called for ‘controlled passion’ from his side this weekend when his Chelsea side face Arsenal, recalling the ‘turning point’ in the two side’s rivalry ahead of their Boxing Day meeting.
Chelsea travel the short distance to face Arsenal this weekend in a huge clash between the two London rivals at the Emirates, the capital’s two most successful clubs playing out the latest instalment of a rivalry that has taken on greater significance since the turn of the century.
The two sides have won eight Premier League titles between them and have contested five major cup finals since 2002, with Roman Abramovich’s takeover having seen Chelsea challenge Arsenal as London’s biggest club in the early 2000’s.
Ahead of the latest clash between the two capital clubs, Chelsea manager Lampard has reflected on how the rivalry has changed and believes a Champions League quarter-final between the sides in 2004 acted as the ‘turning point’ for the Blues.
Arsenal were in the midst of a historic unbeaten season in the Premier League and looking to win the Champions League for the first time, when they were eliminated over two legs by an emerging Chelsea side backed by Abramovich’s billions.
“The evening was a turning point when we got that result because it gave us a huge amount of belief at that time,” he told the official Chelsea website.
“We had not managed to beat Arsenal in my first days at Chelsea because they were a really strong unit and they had been built up for quite a number of years under Arsene Wenger, and we were changing, we were young. That night gave us belief so it did push us on at that point.”
That victory ended a run of dominance for Arsenal in the fixture with the Gunners having not lost to Chelsea for some six years, the latter’s success at Highbury proving the catalyst behind the most successful spell in the Blues’ history.
Lampard also believes the result ignited the rivalry between the two sides and hopes his side can ‘play with controlled passion’ ahead of this weekend’s latest derby clash.
“When I joined at Chelsea, Arsenal had the upper hand on us and had won league titles before I came here. As we managed to change that a lot, there was obviously clear rivalry, as you would expect with London teams anyway.
“I enjoyed that side of it, as long as it is controlled and carried out the right way, which I think it was for most of the time. I think that rivalry remains. My role now is different, I am not on the pitch, the players have to play with controlled passion because that is what a derby brings.”
Chelsea currently sit fifth in the Premier League and are six points behind league leaders Liverpool, with the west London outfit seeking victory against a struggling Arsenal side sitting just four points above the relegation places following a dismal start to the season.