Ahead of Chelsea's meeting with London rivals Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, goalkeeper Petr Cech has backed his former Blues team-mate, William Gallas, over his revelation of splits in the Gunners' dressing room and his claim that the team lacks fighting qualities.
Gallas's outburst cost him the Arsenal captaincy, but Cech, who played with the Frenchman for three seasons in the Chelsea defence, insists that that the 31-year-old centre-back only spoke out because he had Arsenal's interests at heart.
Cech told the Sun newspaper's SunSport: “I know William and if he says it then it is true. I’ve played with him and know him well.
“William is a great guy and he is passionate about football but I don’t agree players should talk publicly about what is discussed in the dressing room.
“William must have felt very frustrated to want to talk publicly about it. As a person he says what he feels. And that’s why people look at him differently because, when he speaks, it comes from the heart.’’
Cech also takes issue with the notion that Arsenal play more attractive football than Chelsea. “The difference between us and them is that we know how to win games in a different way.
“Arsenal play beautiful football at times but, when you don’t manage to move your opponents with your football, you need to fight and be physical.
“And this is what Arsenal are missing.
“Chelsea and Arsenal have so many similar characteristics. Both sides want to play with the ball and to entertain.
“But Arsenal always play like that because they don’t have the squad for people to defend.”
Last December, when Chelsea visited the Emirates and lost 0-1, it was Gallas who scored the winning goal - and Cech has revealed that conceding it proved to be a profound moment in his career.
Cech misjudged a cross and Gallas headed home, but the Czech Republic keeper confessed to SunSport: “The moment I conceded that goal was terrible but it was also one of the most important things that happened in my career.
“I couldn’t explain why it happened so, along with the coaches, we analysed my movement in relation to the flight of the ball.
“Then I saw an eye specialist who realised that there had been a slight deterioration in my sight.
“That goal was a real negative for me but in the end it was one of the most important of the season.
“Since that game I have worn contact lenses and it hasn’t happened again. Yeah, I got some stick from my team-mates but I just said that, even blind, I wasn’t half bad!”
Cech is convinced that a win for Chelsea on Sunday will kill off Arsenal's faltering title hopes. “If Arsenal lose then they will be out. The gap will be 13 points and that is too much in this league. For them this is a must-win game," he insisted.
“And the incentive for us is the chance to eliminate one of our title rivals early in the race.”
He also feels Chelsea have changed their approach this season under Brazilian coach Luiz Feliope Scolari. “We play a different way and the goal difference this season tells its own story. In the past, maybe we could have won games the same way but, when we scored one or two, then we decided that points were more important than the style of play.
“Everyone says Arsenal have played beautiful football in the last few years but they never won anything.
“For us, when it was 1-0 we shut the door, closed the game out and took the three points and that was the way we wanted to be champions.
“I think we can still do that, the core of the team is still there and we know that, when we need to shut the door, then we can.
“But this could be a very exciting game for everyone.
“Both teams want to play and, even if they come to try and defend, they can’t do it.
“It is potentially a brilliant game but, in the end, three points will make a difference to both teams’ chances in the league.”
Mark Hinton, Goal.com