• Premier League

Ivanovic braced for Arsenal challenge

ESPN staff
September 24, 2012

Branislav Ivanovic believes Chelsea's Premier League showdown at Arsenal on Saturday is the Blues' first big game of the season as they look to build on their near-perfect start to the season.

The European champions had Ashley Cole to thank for the late winner that saw off Stoke 1-0 at Stamford Bridge that kept them one point clear of Manchester United at the top of the league after five games.

But while the Blues have beaten newly promoted Reading, nearly-relegated QPR and Wigan and an inconsistent Newcastle so far, the Serbian defender knows they face a different task when they travel to Emirates Stadium this weekend.

"We have the next game as a very great challenge for us in the Premier League - Arsenal away," Ivanovic said. "This is the first actual big game for us this season."

"Our performances and quality - we know how it is," the 28-year-old added. "But we have to show everyone, and we have to show it every game. This is the biggest challenge. I think Arsenal will be a great challenge for us, and we have to really be ready for that."

Ivanovic admitted that Chelsea will need to produce a better performance than they mustered against Tony Pulis' side to overcome the Gunners, who are showing greater steel already this season and may feature in the title race next May.

But the Serb is certain that there is more to come from Roberto Di Matteo's side - not least former Arsenal left-back Cole.

"For me, Ash is the best left-back in the world - for a long time," Ivanovic said. "He is really great, and always makes a lot of good things for the team. We're really happy for him because, for defenders, it is always nice to score goals for the confidence. Ashley is really fantastic.

"He has the skill, he has the speed, he can run, he can go up front, he has the vision of the game, he defends well, he is quick...but I think all this is nothing new!"

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