CHELSEA (2) vs ARSENAL (0)
ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger blamed his side’s wastefulness in front of goal after Didier Drogba kept up his incredible scoring record against the Gunners to extend Chelsea’s lead at the top of the table to four points.
Drogba deftly backheeled Ashley Cole’s low cross in off both posts just before half-time, and the Blues weathered heavy pressure before clinching victory in the 85th minute through Alex’s thunderbolt free-kick.
The visitors, out-muscled and soundly beaten home and away by Chelsea last season, gave as good as they got on this occasion and had several chances to go ahead and, once trailing, equalise.
But those opportunities were spurned, including two in the first minute that fell to Marouane Chamakh and Laurent Koscielny, and Chelsea showed all the ruthlessness of old to punish the Gunners and pull seven points clear of them with just seven games played.
“We have demonstrated that you can play well and lose the game. The game should have been over before we started. We had two chances in the first minute, one very easy,” said Wenger. “We missed too many chances and at that level you need to be more clinical. Their strikers were more clinical and that’s what made the difference. Apart from that I believe Chelsea suffered a lot and were on the ropes for long periods.”
Chelsea might easily have added to their two fine goals, Nicolas Anelka spurning one notable chance, but will be content to have emphatically re-established their authority in the top flight with relative ease and at such an early point in the campaign.
While it may be premature to write off Arsenal’s title chances, this result will do nothing to convince their doubters that they are better equipped to mount a lasting challenge this season. A win would have changed all that, and they ought to have been in front inside 60 seconds, first Chamakh heading wide, albeit deflected, and then, incredibly, Koscielny nodding over unchallenged from inside the six-yard box. Drogba stung Lukasz Fabianski’s palms as the half ebbed and flowed intensely, before Cole capitalised on confusion caused by a quick free-kick to cross low and the forward – the Gunners’ nemesis – touched in his 13th in 13 games against Arsenal.
Wenger’s men started the second half in the mood to make amends but it was Chelsea who almost scored again, Anelka streaking clear and evading Fabianksi only to hit the side-netting. The oft-criticised Pole was in solid form, however, and saved again from Anelka before Chamakh wasted a superb chance to equalise, leaping highest but nodding a yard wide of the near post.
Five minutes form time they were punished when Drogba was fouled and Alex unleashed an unstoppable free-kick that went inside the wall but rose away from Fabianski and into the top corner.
Players wanted to win for grieving Ancelotti, says No2 Wilkins
CHELSEA assistant manager Ray Wilkins said the players put in extra effort yesterday for manager Carlo Ancelotti, who coached the team yesterday despite his father passing away last week.
“It’s been a very tough week for him but today we saw from the work ethic the boys had how much they wanted to win this game,” he said.
Didier Drogba once again proved a thorn in Arsenal’s side, netting his 13th goal in 13 games against the Gunners. “Didier Drogba’s record is phenomenal,” Wilkins added. “The goal [he scored] is what he’s all bout. When he’s on fire as he was today he makes a difference.”