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Frank Lampard has warned his Chelsea players they can take nothing for granted against Arsenal on Boxing Day and believes Mikel Arteta’s side represent ‘dangerous’ opponents, regardless of their recent struggles.
Chelsea bounced back from consecutive defeats at the hands of Everton and Wolves to record an ultimately convincing 3-0 win over West Ham at Stamford Bridge on Monday and move back into fifth place in the table.
Arsenal, meanwhile, appear to be headed for a relegation battle with Arteta clinging to his position following a miserable run of form which has seen the Gunners drop to within four points of the bottom three.
The outlook for Arteta looked so different when, back in August, he masterminded Arsenal’s FA Cup final triumph against Chelsea, before embarking on bolstering his squad over the summer.
New signings Willian and Thomas Partey, for different reasons, have failed to make a significant impact, while the form of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has deteriorated at an alarming rate.
Despite their precarious position, Lampard still believes Arsenal possess a ‘class’ manager in Arteta and believes the number of London derbies he side will face throughout the season represents a disadvantage that some of Chelsea’s title rivals will benefit from.
He said: ‘The league is so tough we are seeing results every week that might surprise some. It’s hard for most teams to sustain results that might be expected in different seasons and there’s a culmination of reasons for that.
‘I don’t want to jump the gun, the tasks are in front of us, we’ve got Arsenal on Boxing Day, Aston Villa come here two days later with hardly a turnaround and then City come early in the new year, so they are really tough the emphasis is on us.
‘It can be very tough (with so many derby matches) they are all very challenging games you saw that tonight with West Ham and obviously fans not being around may have changed an element of it slightly.
‘Yes we’ve been in decent form but I don’t think that matters very much, every game we have to take on at face value. With Arsenal I see it as a team of great quality and a class manager who are in a tough moment. That’s a really dangerous combination to go up against. We have to prepare right.’