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Nov 28, 2008

Ballack warns of danger from wounded Gunners

Michael Ballack insists Arsenal will represent a real danger when they face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge as the dressing room turmoil sparked by defender William Gallas will give them added desire to beat the Blues.

The France international was stripped of the captaincy by coach Arsene Wenger after publicly claiming all was not well within the Arsenal camp and the Gunners went on to lose 3-0 against Manchester City last weekend.

A win for Chelsea would put them 13 points clear of the Gunners and effectively end their opponents' title hopes for another season, but Germany midfielder Ballack warned the recent events at the Emirates Stadium would make their London rivals a real threat on Sunday.

''We hope we can beat them as it would be a lot for Arsenal to come back,'' he said. ''Arsenal have other problems now but such teams are very dangerous at these moments.

''Because they have problems in the team, they are dangerous and we have to be aware especially after Wednesday's game against Bordeaux.

''If you are on top of the league it is always a little bit different. They have to win to close the gap. We are on top and they are 10 points behind us. They have to win as well. The team has a target to be champions after finishing second twice but everyone is hungry and the focus is there.''

Meanwhile, Luiz Felipe Scolari insists that Arsenal will continue to be a title threat even if Chelsea beat them on Sunday.

''Last season Chelsea were nine points behind United at the halfway point and even if you're 15 points clear with five games to go, you're not champions,'' said Scolari. ''You're only champions at the end of the last game. This is the first time I'll have played against Wenger - he's been my friend for 10 or 12 years now.

''I met him for the first time in Japan and we are big friends. I like him as a coach. If I chose five coaches in the world as the best, he'd be one of the five.

''His team plays football, so it's difficult to win. They play beautiful football. I watched their game against Manchester United and it was one of the best games in the Premier League. This game against Chelsea will be like that as well.

''This is one of the big games but we are not motivated just for a game against Arsenal or Tottenham. We need to play every game with the same motivation. We need to try to win.''

Scolari will go into the game without the services of the suspended and much-troubled striker Didier Drogba.

He will sit out the second match of his three-game ban with the dust refusing to settle on his alleged meeting with Inter Milan's sporting director Marco Branca last Monday night.

But Scolari admitted he had not spoken to the Ivorian striker about his alleged attendance at the meeting because he had been focused on the Arsenal game.

However, Scolari is convinced that Drogba is 100% committed to Chelsea despite the recent speculation over his future.

''I think Didier is happy,'' said Scolari. ''My relationship with him is very good. Very good. All I know is that he can't play against Arsenal. I have to be thinking about the Arsenal game, not what might happen in 2010 or 2011.

''I'm not thinking about Juliano Belletti, Didier Drogba, Ricardo Carvalho and Franco Di Santo because none of them can play. Drogba has had four months of injury, but he's training now. Now it's step by step at Chelsea. I'll try to play him when he's back from suspension.

''For me, he has my support every day. Injured or not injured. I'm sure he's 100% committed to the club.''

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