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Wilkins praises clinical Chelsea

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Chelsea's assistant manager Ray Wilkins hailed his team's resilience as the Blues overpowered Arsenal to earn themselves a four-point lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League.

Didier Drogba's 13th goal in 11 starts against the Gunners and a powerful 30-yard free-kick from defender Alex put Chelsea in a strong position going into the international break.

The defeat left Arsenal with just one point from the last nine and seven points adrift of the Blues.

Chelsea responded superbly after a week when their preparations were affected by the death of coach Carlo Ancelotti's father.

"It's been an extremely difficult week but Carlo would like to thank everybody who has sent their best wishes, especially the League Managers Association," said Wilkins. "He also got a very nice very text from Sir Alex Ferguson and he wanted me to say that.

"The team prepared itself very well because it has been very difficult for them.

"The first day after his father died was a little bit lacklustre but then for the last two days they trained exceptionally well.

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"They knew what was in front of them with Arsenal. They are a very good side indeed. For us to beat them is always a delight, it is not always very pleasant to look at but it was effective and I thought the lads were terrific.

"We didn't play the type of football we like to. But sometimes you have to fight and scrap and I think we have the quality to do so. When we do get in the final third, we certainly have the quality to finish teams off.

"Arsenal play some wonderful football and they are one of the teams that scare me. They can take the ball off us and not give us it back.

"That worries me a touch but today we showed great determination and mettle. They had a couple of chances in the first minute so we were a little worried.

"We were disappointed against Manchester City because we didn't match them with any determination, guts and fire and that hurt our lads. You didn't see a fantastic performance today but a different performance in that we really ground out a very good win.

"Three points is what we fight for and we are delighted to have got them."

Drogba's record against Arsenal was labelled as "phenomenal" by Wilkins, who also reserved some praise for Alex's astonishing free-kick.

"Didier's record against Arsenal is phenomenal but he scores against all of them, not just the Arsenal," said Wilkins. "But he did score a very good goal again.

"That type of backheel is what Didier is all about. That's what makes him what he is. He certainly does make a difference when he is on fire like he was today.

"Alex did the same against Liverpool in the Champions League but he practises them. It is not a fluke - he gets out there after training and hits those free-kicks.

"He works hard at it and reaps his rewards when it comes to him. What a goal it was."

Wilkins also maintained it was "significant" that Chelsea went into the international break with a four-point lead over Manchester City at the top.

"It is significant and we are pleased but we are only seven league games in, and there is a lot of football to be played - but we always want to be at the top and at the moment we are there."


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