Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Knight Fears Threat of Deadly Duo; with Chelsea Set to Partner Anelka and Drogba Up Front Tomorrow, the Aston Villa Centre-Half Is a Worried Man. by Simon Johnson

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Knight Fears Threat of Deadly Duo; with Chelsea Set to Partner Anelka and Drogba Up Front Tomorrow, the Aston Villa Centre-Half Is a Worried Man. by Simon Johnson

Article excerpt

Byline: Simon Johnson

ZAT KNIGHT is no stranger to the task of taking on Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka, yet the thought of trying to stop them as a partnership has the Aston Villa defender in a bit of a cold sweat.

The sight of the two strikers being paired together in training this week by new manager Guus Hiddink may be exciting to Chelsea fans but for Knight it is the last thing the 28-year-old centrehalf wanted to see.

The former Fulham star said: "I have played against both of them before and they are fantastic players.

"It will certainly be something new to play against them as a partnership, they are hard enough on their own." Villa take on Chelsea tomorrow knowing that a win will give them an even greater chance of finishing above them and claiming a place in the Champions League next season.

Martin O'Neill's side are two points ahead in third place, however, Dutchman Hiddink is planning to hand them a reality check at Villa Park and put Chelsea's season back on track in his first game at the helm.

His gameplan is expected to hinge on a move away from the single striker policy favoured by predecessor Luiz Felipe Scolari and unleash the twin threat of Drogba and Anelka.

It is 13 months since the Frenchman joined from Bolton in a [pounds sterling]15million deal but he has only played a handful of games with Drogba.

At Watford in the FA Cup last week, the potential of their partnership started to emerge once Chelsea switched to a 4-4-2 formation in the second half as, with Drogba's help, Anelka scored a hattrick in just 15 minutes..

Knight (left) is all too aware of the threat both players carry individually having faced them many times since making his Premier League debut in 2001 and he fears the duo are perfectly capable of forming an effective partnership.

He said: "It looks like they might play up front together which will be a real challenge for us but all their players are very good.

"They are both quick, strong and world class, so I know we're going to be in for a really tough game tomorrow.

"Anelka is the top scorer in the Premier League this season and Drogba has been consistently strong the last few years.

"We know we will have to be at our best to stop them but we are looking to keep a clean sheet." Given a new lease of life by his move to Villa in August 2007, Knight is trying not to get too carried away by the prospect of qualifying to play in Europe's premier club competition next season.

During his eight years at Craven Cottage, he was more worried about playing in the Championship than the Champions League.

But his career has been on an upward curve since being sold by Fulham for a bargain [pounds sterling]3.5m.

Knight added: "When I was at Fulham

I could never believe I would have a chance of finishing above Chelsea in the title race and beating them to a Champions League place. …

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