Cesar Azpilicueta acknowledges that Arsenal ‘are not in their best form’ but has warned his team-mates they face a top team with ‘dangerous’ players at the Emirates on Boxing Day.
The Gunners have had their worst start to a top-flight campaign since 1974 after just eight wins from their opening 14 games in the Premier League and are hovering just four points above the relegation zone in 15th place.
Mikel Arteta is under intense scrutiny as a result of Arsenal’s desperate struggles and the side’s crushing Carabao Cup loss to Manchester City on Tuesday night did little to ease the pressure on the Spaniard.
But Azpilicueta is aware of the threat posed by Arsenal after Chelsea’s FA Cup final defeat back in August and is refusing to underestimate the opposition, despite their poor run of results in recent weeks.
‘We were obviously disappointed with that result [in the FA Cup] but now we’re four months later, it’s a different competition and a new game,’ Chelsea’s skipper told the club’s official website.
‘They are not in their best form but we know their qualities and that they have dangerous players so we have to cope with that.
‘We respect them and we know it’s going to be tough but we need points so hopefully we can go there and play our game.
‘We have the confidence and belief to do that and obviously we will try to get the points.’
Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Tuesday, Lampard agreed that Arsenal were ‘dangerous’ opponents and urged his players not to take anything for granted.
‘The league is so tough we are seeing results every week that might surprise some,’ the Chelsea head coach said.
‘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 Manchester City come early in the new year, so they are really tough the emphasis is on us.
‘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.’