Chelsea proved exactly why they are considered the favourites for the title this season as they maintained their impressive recent record against Arsenal to claim a 2-0 win in the Premier League this evening.
Carlo Ancelotti’s Blues poured on the misery for an Arsenal side that have only managed two wins from the last 15 encounters between the two London rivals as a Didier Drogba strike and an own goal from Thomas Vermaelen settled the match at the Emirates Stadium.
In a meeting between the Premier League’s strongest attack and meanest defence, Arsenal had been on the front foot during the opening exchanges and had been taking the game to their west London counterparts.
It was Chelsea, however, who were presented with the first chance of the match after 18 minutes as Frank Lampard, passed fit to play despite concerns over a thigh injury, put Nicolas Anelka into the clear but Bacary Sagna tracked back to get in the vital challenge just as his international compatriot was about to pick his spot.
There were suspicions that Sagna had hauled Anelka to the ground in the process of making the crucial tackle although none of the Chelsea players appeared to appeal for the penalty as Lampard fired wide from the follow-up.
It would take 24 minutes before Arsenal created their first real opening as Samir Nasri drove forward before hitting a low shot from just outside the box. It was a decent effort from the 22-year-old but a lack of real power ensured Petr Cech made a comfortable save.
Despite a distinct lack of genuine efforts on goal, Chelsea grabbed the initiative when Drogba scored the opening goal of the game to continue his imperious record against Arsene Wenger’s side. A smart finish into the net via crossbar and post made it nine in his last nine outings against the Gunners following good work down the left from Ashley Cole.
Just two minutes later and the Blues had opened up a two goal lead as the unfortunate Vermaelen put through his own net. Ex-Gunner Cole was again the provider as his accurate cross was delivered into a really dangerous area and the Belgian international, undoubtedly worried by Drogba’s presence in the box, diverted the ball past Manuel Alumnia for 2-0 Chelsea.
Wenger made the decision to bring on Theo Walcott at half-time in an attempt to inject a bit of pace into his side and Arsenal were a little unlucky not to have reduced the arrears almost immediately after the break when Andrei Arshavin had a goal chalked off after an alleged foul by Eduardo on Cech.
The Czech Republic goalkeeper had initially saved well at the feet of Eduardo although as Cesc Fabregas played the ball back into the area, the Croatian forward was adjudged by referee Andre Marriner to have kicked the ball from Cech’s grasp before Arshavin slammed the ball into the net past a ruckus of Chelsea players on the line.
Chelsea nearly increased their lead with what would have proved a somewhat fortuitous goal on 64 minutes. Drogba got the ball onto his right foot before shooting from just outside the box although the former Marseille star’s effort was deflected first off William Gallas and then off Lampard’s chest to force Almunia into a smart save low down to his right.
Arsenal continued to press and probe for a way back into the match although Chelsea effectively put the game to bed with a terrific free-kick from Drogba.
The 31-year-old claimed his second of the match on 86 minutes as he dispatched a stunning strike into the corner of the net from around 25-yards out to increase Chelsea’s lead at the top of the Premier League to five points ahead of Manchester United in second place.