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Arsenal take on Chelsea legends: If we were playing now, red cards would fly!
Published : 27 Nov 2009 01:26:05
Arsenal and Chelsea meet on Sunday in a classic derby confrontation. Steve Curry sat down to lunch with former stars of both sides to hear their tales of classic contests, derring-do... and the occasional pre-match tipple! Steve Curry: What are your memories of games between the two clubs? Martin Keown: I remember the Kanu game. We went 2-0 down to Chelsea, who remember were a good team before Roman Abramovich took over. They had spent a lot of money - almost gone bankrupt - and they had at one stage been five points ahead of us. Anyway Kanu scored three wonder goals. That was the great thing. The boss had surrounded us with so much rich talent. You would pass the ball to certain players and almost chuckled because you knew what damage they were going to do. Kanu was one. Marc Overmars was another. He was so quick. But above all Patrick Vieira was the catalyst. He demanded that we play football. Wonder goals: Kanu celebrates his winner with Nelson Vivas John Hollins: In my days, there was always a fight between Frank McLintock and Peter Osgood, and Peter Storey was also in the thick of it. But oddly enough nobody got sent off. And it always seemed as if we would win at Highbury and they beat us at the Bridge. Ray Parlour: If you had those kinds of battles now, there would be four players taking the early bath! My memory of going to Chelsea was of disabled cars parked beside the goal. With my shooting I could have smashed four windows. London pride: (from left) Hollins, Cundy, Keown and Parlour chew the fat SC: Who were your biggest rivals in these games? RP: Without doubt Dennis Wise. And Gianfranco Zola. He was a great player. He and Bergkamp were the best two foreign players. MK: Physically it would have to be Mark Hughes. JC: I agree. Hughes was a real handful. MK: Thierry Henry would be up there. When he first came he couldn't speak a word ofEnglish and it amazed me how quickly he picked it up. RP: Yeah. My claim to fame is teaching him to say 'hit the ball off the beans on toast' on television. SC: Was it a great time to be at Chelsea in the Sixties, John? JH: For some of the lads yes. Ossie would get the lads together and head off to hit the town. This was the Swinging Sixties. It would have been great now because I live on the King's Road, but in those days I lived in Sevenoaks in Kent, so I couldn't join the fun. At the round table: Hollins, Cundy, Parlour and Keown reminisce with our man Curry SC: What about the Arsenal reputation? RP: I think I was the last of the drinkers. I was glad when Tony (Adams) announced he was an alcoholic because he was my mate and my hero. We would go out together on the booze. He's not had a drink for 14 years. He had been a binge drinker. MK: That is why I don't think he was an alcoholic. When he came in the dressing room and said he was I could hardly believe it. JH: Most footballers used to like a drink. But you would go in the next day and run it out of your system. I remember being invited by Liam Brady to the Milan derby when he was playing for Inter and they won 2-1. We went back to his house on Lake Garda and sitting there looking depressed and drinking grapefruit juice was Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who had missed two goals in the game. We were drinking champagne and red wine. Rummenigge comes over to me and says: 'I can't score a goal to save my life.' We said have a drink and he said emphatically: 'No. I refuse to drink'. Then Gentile comes in and asks if he can have a black coffee. RP: I always remember when I was 19 and we went to Anfield and neither Andy Linighan nor me were playing or even on the bench. So we decided to go and have a few beers in the Carlsberg Lounge. I was just downing a pint when one of the lads came in and said 'we've got an injury, you're a sub'. Linighan said 'let him finish his pint'. Anyway I went on and Jamie Redknapp smelt my breath said: 'where were you last night?' I told him I'd been in the bar before the game and he told me he would run me into the ground. Anyway the boss said: 'well done when you came on'. I thought I'd got away with it. Then he said: 'You were in the bar before the match. Two weeks' wages.' JH: It's different now. In the old days players did break curfews and do thing wrong. Now everybody has to be so perfect. I would take my wife and kids out on a Friday night for an Italian meal and have a glass of wine or two. MK: When I played under Howard Kendall at Everton on a Friday night we were allowed two halves of beer and a bottle of wine between four of us. SC: John, you have played for both clubs. Which one was better? JH: I have to say Arsenal. It was the way they made you feel important. I was on my way back from Norwich when the manager Terry Neill rang my wife and we met at a hotel on the A1 and I signed a blank contract. It was a dream at the age of 33. We had David O'Leary, Willie Young, Graham Rix and the double 'S' - Frank Stapleton and Alan Sunderland. SC: What about Chelsea now? JH: To be fair to Abramovich he came into the club and he changed everybody. Everything has changed under him. He brought in people from all over the world. JC: That's why Peter Kenyon was hired. To market the club around the world. They even changed the badge. But there is no doubt that Abramovich is the underlying reason why the club went from mid-table to winning the Championship. Money was no object when he first took over. SC: How about Arsene Wenger. Is his public persona different to the man in the dressing room? RP: Not really. He is a very comical guy. He loves a laugh. Those who went to the League Managers' Association evening with him and Sir Alex Ferguson saw the real man. That night summed him up. There was a lot of mistrust between them when he first came over but they seem like good mates now. JC: He really changed the way things were done in the game over here, don't you think? RP: What he has done for English football has been fantastic. It was ground-breaking stuff. MK: The big difference was that George Graham wanted his players at each others' throats whereas Arsene's philosophy is nice guys win things. You might not have thought that looking at me when I was playing. But everything he changed, like the diet and the stretches, was explained to us. George used to close the canteen on a Friday, which is probably the most important meal before a game the following day. JH: Everybody has done that since. But he has also changed the training methods.He did it all on the clock in 15- minute spells. He would say 'that's enough of that' and move on to something else. Your mind was always active. George would make us do things for 45 minutes and, by the end, the quality had gone out of it. MK: The emphasis changed. From being all about winning the ball back, it came down to passing the ball. RP: But it is also about good players as well. He brought in Thierry (Henry) and Patrick (Vieira) and Robert (Pires). They all knew him in France. They knew he was a great manager from his work in Monaco. When you play with better players it makes you a better player. JH: He got lucky with his back four, though. It was an all-English unit who were established. You knew it was going to be Lee Dixon, Adams, Keown or Steve Bould and Nigel Winterburn, sometimes all five. RP: Once you have that back four you know you're not going to let many goals in. So what he did was bring flair into other parts of the team, improve the passing and create chances. Let's not forget he inherited Dennis Bergkamp, who is the best player I've played with. The best: Parlour and the peerless Bergkamp SC: How did Nicolas Anelka fit into the scheme of things? MK: He is the best 17-year-old I have seen in my life and he is now fulfilling his potential in a Chelsea shirt. RP: His arrival signalled the end for Ian Wright. MK: I remember a match at the end of the season against Derby. We went 1-0 down. Paul Merson went off sick, Tony Adams was sent off and we were down to nine men. We won 3-1 because every time anyone got the ball they gave it to Anelka. He was unbelievable. He's also a great lad, even though he was shy at first. JC: When he first turned up I was at Ipswich. We were playing Arsenal and it was my first game back after chemotherapy. This 17-year-old called Anelka played and after five minutes I knew I was in trouble. I couldn't get near him. SC: How would you compare the strengths of the two managers, Wenger and Carlo Ancelotti? RP: They have both managed very good players. Man management is vital in football and they have both shown they can handle the very top players. MK: Good management is about creating environments, learning environments. I set down how you are going to live. I am the role model. I am going to form the habits. This is how we are going to lead our lives. If you behave in the right way, they behave in the right way. SC: And the players who'll take to the field on Sunday? MK: What strikes me from the outside about Chelsea is that they have a very strong group of players who almost manage themselves. There have been more managersrecently than there have been new players so that the owner (Abramovich) has convinced himself that all he needs is a manager to keep them together. JC: I'm not sure about that. What strikes me about Chelsea is that for the last four years they have stuck rigidly to 4-3-3. That has not changed under Jose Mourinho, Avram Grant, Felipe Scolari, Gus Hiddink. Now that has altered under Ancelotti.He plays a diamond at home and a Christmas tree formation away. In the big games, Essien will always anchor. And that is how they will play against Arsenal this weekend, Anelka and Joe Cole off Didier Drogba with Essien, Florent Malouda or Frank Lampard and Michael Ballack across the middle and the usual back four. MK: That's a shame in a way because Essien is so good going forward. JC: Whatever position he plays he is the best player on the pitch. He is the best right back in the club. He's like Steven Gerrard for Liverpool. RP: The most important player for Chelsea will be the holding midfield player.Whoever it is, John Mikel Obi or Essien you have to try and take Cesc Fabregas out of the game. He is involved in 80 per cent of what's good for Arsenal. If you can take him out then that is key. So Chelsea's holding midfield player will be vital. SC: Finally, who is going to win the Premier League title this season? JC: Chelsea. They have the strength in depth. RP: Chelsea. MK: Chelsea. But the Premier League needs an Arsenal win on Sunday. JH: Chelsea. They have the manager and the players. Two tribes go to war: It's derby day on Sunday with Arsenal v Chelsea, Everton v Liverpool and Wolves v Birmingham GRAHAM POLL: Referees respect the fire of bitter derby battlesForget El Gran Clasico or the Manchester derby, the raw fury at Burnley shook City boss Mark Hughes the mostARSENAL FC