Determined Ballack can ‘smell success’

MICHAEL BALLACK claims he can “smell the success” and has vowed to give his all to help the club land a hat-trick of trophies. Ballack’s confidence follows the agony of accumulating the same number of runners-up medals last season.

This term they are outsiders in the Premier League race, but are firmly in with a chance in the knockout competitions, with semi-final appointments in the FA Cup and Champions League.

The first of those is tomorrow’s showdown with Arsenal at Wembley and Ballack has warned Arsene Wenger’s side that Chelsea are determined not to finish empty-handed.

“The hunger is always there. I’ve played football my whole life and I still want to win,” said the 32-year-old.

“I have a few years left but I will give everything for the rest of the season to win one, two or three trophies. We will give everything for the FA Cup, Champions League and Premier League.

“The team is hungry after finishing runners-up three times last season.

“We are not a team who have won everything in the past. If you compare us to a club like Liverpool, they have had big success. But now we are smelling the success.

“We are coming close to winning something. This club needs a big title to go further and that’s what we are trying to achieve at the moment.”

After three seasons without success — their last major trophy was the FA Cup in 2005 — double-chasing Arsenal are every bit as eager to finish the campaign on a triumphant note.

Ballack believes the Gunners have been undermined by their inconsistency but admits they have hit form at the business end of the season.

“Arsenal have a squad and a team that can play football, everyone knows this. But sometimes they can be up and down,” he said.

“That is why they are sometimes not at the top of the Premiership. But if they play at their highest level everybody knows they can play fantastic football.

“They have good players and that is what they are showing at the moment, so we have to be careful.”

Chelsea were beaten 2-1 by Arsenal in November and are keen to avenge that defeat, though Ballack admits his team’s workload is demanding.

“We want to win and we have to show them that we can beat them. We lost one game to them earlier in the season,” he said.

“We were playing well until they scored. They got an offside goal and we had been controlling the game up until that point.

“Everyone knows the FA Cup semi-final is another big game and it will be very special for everyone involved. It’s another big challenge for us but it’s always difficult to keep going.

“That was our problem two years ago when we went out of the Champions League against Liverpool — they could rest eight players before the semi-final. We were still in the title race and that gave them an advantage — they were fresher.

“But if you want to win trophies you must learn to deal with that situation.”


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