CHELSA v/s ARSENAL
CARLO ANCELOTTI branded John Terry his “perfect” captain after his talismanic display helped Chelsea overpower Arsenal and go back to the top of the table.
The Blues skipper has endured a miserable week after being stripped of the England captaincy by Fabio Capello on Friday following lurid headlines about his private life.
But, roared on by the loyal Chelsea faithful, Terry put his troubles behind him to inspire his side to a vital three points, which came courtesy of a clinical first-half double from Didier Drogba.
“John is the perfect captain for Chelsea,” Ancelotti said afterwards. “My captain has a fantastic attitude. He is doing very well in every game.
“It is very important for the team to have this leadership. He was always in control of the game. He has a strong mentality. He is working for his club and we are happy to have this performance from him in this moment.”
Victory puts the Blues back on top of the table, two points ahead of nearest rivals Manchester United and now nine clear of Arsenal.
Despite that, however, Ancelotti insists the Gunners should not be written off just yet. “Arsenal still have a possibility because they are a good team,” the Italian added. “It depends on the performances of Manchester United and Chelsea. I am not sure it will be a race with two horses.”
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger saw his side enjoy the majority of possession, but they never really hurt a resilient Chelsea back line, marshaled expertly by Terry.
“You have to congratulate Chelsea,” Wenger said. “We did not get a demonstration of football but they were efficient and that is what made the difference.”
Of his title hopes, he added: “We are not in the best of positions but we will not give up.”
Not for the first time, Drogba proved the difference between these London rivals – the Ivorian powering his way to a brace inside the opening 23 minutes.
Just seven minutes had gone when he punished some slack Arsenal marking from a corner after Terry had flicked on Florent Malouda’s ball in.
Then, after Arsenal had threatened themselves, he finished off a sweeping counter attack, set up by Frank Lampard, cutting inside two Gunners defenders and powering a shot past Manuel Almunia.
Andrey Arshavin missed Arsenal’s best chance, shooting at the legs of Petr Cech while Drogba came within a whisker of a hat-trick late on, smashing a 25-yard free-kick against the crossbar with Almunia beaten.