Arsenal manager wary of Blues ahead of Sunday's London derby
London: Arsene Wenger has warned Arsenal not to underestimate troubled Chelsea as the EPL leaders bid to end their long barren run against them.
The Gunners' 1-0 win over Chelsea in the Community Shield in August was Wenger's first success against his arch-rival Jose Mourinho in 14 attempts. But that win at Wembley proved a false dawn for Arsenal in their attempt to end Chelsea's stranglehold over their derby showdowns.
Wenger's men were beaten 0-2 at Stamford Bridge in September in one of the few highlights of a miserable campaign for Chelsea, who have since parted company with Mourinho and are now under the interim stewardship of Guus Hiddink heading into tomorrow's clash at the Emirates Stadium.
That loss meant Arsenal have failed to win any of their last eight league meetings with Chelsea dating back to their previous success in October 2011 and, even more remarkably, they have been unable to muster a single goal in the last five of those matches.
Remember the time? Arsenal defender Gabriel (left) and Chelsea striker Diego Costa (second from right) are separated by Arsenal 'keeper Petr Cech (centre) as they clash during an EPL match at Stamford Bridge in London on September 19 last year. Chelsea had beaten Arsenal 2-0 then. Pic/AFP
Even at their own Emirates Stadium, Arsenal have no victories in their last five meetings in all competitions since their home win against Chelsea in December 2010.
So, although Arsenal sit top of the table while spluttering champions Chelsea are languishing four points above the relegation zone in 14th place, Wenger has suffered enough against the west Londoners to know not to take victory for granted.
"They are not in this title race but I know the quality of their team. This season there have been exceptional circumstances for them and they will be back. I consider them direct rivals," Wenger said.
"People will look at us and see how we behave because even if Chelsea are not in the best position, you look at their squad. It's a big game given the quality of players and it's important to us because we play at Emirates Stadium and we know it will be important to win these types of games."