Battling Blues sink Gunners
Blues oust Gunners in capital derby to stay on top
Last Updated: September 29, 2012 6:05pm
Chelsea retained the top spot in the early Premier League table as they edged out Arsenal 2-1 in Saturday's London derby at Emirates Stadium.
Fernando Torres and Juan Mata were on target for the Blues either side of a classy Gervinho goal, while Gunners defender Laurent Koscielny endured an afternoon to forget.
The Blues started the brighter team and were rewarded for their efforts in the 20th minute, when some woeful defending from Koscielny allowed Torres to angle home Mata's free-kick.
Gervinho drew the Gunners level just before the break after some good build-up by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, turning tightly in the box and stroking home from close range.
But Chelsea grabbed the winner in the 53rd minute as Mata's curling free-kick, helped along by Koscielny, found the back of the net.
Blues captain John Terry started after being found guilty of using racist language towards Anton Ferdinand by a Football Association hearing earlier this week, but is awaiting the full written judgement of the independent panel, before deciding whether to appeal a verdict which saw him banned for four matches and fined £220,000.
The 31-year-old has always protested his innocence and was found not guilty of a racially aggravated public order offence in a criminal trial during July.
Predictable chants of "you know what you are" from the Arsenal crowd greeted Terry's first touch, as did jeers for former Gunner Ashley Cole.
However, the Emirates Stadium faithful had little to sing about as the match wore on.
While Chelsea came through their first real test of the new campaign, the Gunners again saw question marks raised over their defensive resilience.
Arsenal had made a lively start, with Ivory Coast forward Gervinho again deployed down the centre as contract rebel Theo Walcott watched on from the bench.
On 11 minutes, Abou Diaby created space for himself some 20 yards out and shot fiercely at Petr Cech.
However, the French midfielder's injury jinx appeared to strike again as he was soon replaced by Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Chelsea took the lead on 20 minutes with a brilliant finish from Torres.
A free-kick from Mata on the right was floated through the Arsenal penalty area towards the far post.
Koscielny was wrestling with Torres, but the Spaniard was still able to hook the ball back into the net.
Before Arsenal could regroup, they were almost 2-0 down. Torres robbed Koscielny out on the left and darted into the penalty area.
However, as the keeper came out and he shaped to shoot, the Spaniard tumbled, claiming his heel had been clipped by Koscielny.
Referee Martin Atkinson, however, was having none of it.
Slowly Arsenal found their rhythm again.
Gervinho was picked out at the far post and headed back across goal instead of at it.
The Gunners' frustrations were starting to show as Aaron Ramsey was booked for a late tackle on Oscar in the 35th minute.
The Brazilian then also went into the notebook after another poor challenge on Mikel Arteta, who played a key role in the Gunners' equaliser after 42 minutes.
Patient build up from right-back Carl Jenkinson fed the ball back to Arteta, and he slipped Oxlade-Chamberlain down the flank.
His low centre across the six-yard box was collected by Gervinho, who had sidestepped Terry, with his back to goal - and he turned to blast a shot into the roof of the net.
Arsenal started the second half brightly, with Santi Cazorla snatching at an angled drive which flew wide.
However, the Gunners were undone again in the 53rd minute.
Once more Mata's curling delivery caused panic in the Arsenal penalty area - and a backtracking Koscielny helped the ball on with the slightest of touches into the corner past Vito Mannone's dive.
Arsenal had to regroup again, and were almost level when Cech brilliantly palmed away a looping header from Lukas Podolski.
Wenger had seen enough and made a double change after 66 minutes, bringing on Walcott for Ramsey and Olivier Giroud, who scored his first Arsenal goal in the midweek Capital One Cup win over Coventry, for Podolski.
Cech was on hand to palm away a deflected effort from Giroud as Arsenal looked for the equaliser.
Gibbs tripped Mata on the edge of the penalty area to give Chelsea another dangerous set-piece. This time, though, his shot went straight into the wall.
As the match entered the final 10 minutes, Arsenal continued to press for an equaliser, but were frustrated by a combination of poor passing and determined defence.
Giroud had a golden chance to snatch an equaliser in stoppage-time, but was forced wide by Cech and could only smash his shot into the side netting.Terry made a point of heading over to the travelling support at the final whistle, handing his boots to a couple of young fans.
|1||1st Half Goals||1|
|4||Shots on Target||3|
|10||Shots off Target||5|
|46.2||1st Half Poss.||53.8|
|55.7||2nd Half Poss.||44.3|
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Arsenal v Chelsea
Mikel Arteta is aware Arsenal must do better from set-pieces, but believes it has still been a positive start.
Petr Cech was pleased with a battling performance that saw Chelsea claim three points away to Arsenal.
Roberto Di Matteo says he feels vindicated over his decision to pick John Terry for Chelsea on Saturday.