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Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal: Drogba proves unlucky 13 for Wenger and Co

Didier Drogba vs ArsenalGetty Images.

Written by Joe Carroll.

Chelsea extended their lead at the top of the Premier League after a 2-0 win over Arsenal, leaving their title rivals with a four point deficit to undo. Goals from Didier Drogba and a stunning strike from defender Alex were enough to seal victory over their London rivals.  Arsenal have won only twice in the two sides last 17 meetings, and it was a familiar foe who proved Arsene Wenger’s downfall once again as Drogba continued his spectacular scoring record against the Gunners.  The Chelsea striker has now scored 13 times in as many games against Arsenal and in this form he looks set to thwart their attempt for Premier League glory again.

But on the evidence of proceedings prior to Drogba’s opener, their could and perhaps should have been a very different outcome.  Arsenal enjoyed early spells of dominance and looked to take the game to Chelsea, keen to prevent yet another Chelsea hiding by demonstrating their attacking intent.  New signing Marouane Chamakh went close as early as the first minute.  Bacary Sagna’s right sided cross was met by the glancing head of the Moroccan, only for it to be deflected off Chelsea’s Alex.

From the resulting corner, Laurent Koscielny was offered the time, the space and the majority of the goal to put Arsenal in front.  Not many players are afforded that kind of opportunity at Stamford Bridge, and with the net ready to ripple Koscielny somehow headed over the bar.  The Frenchman will not get an easier chance in his career and we can only speculate as to how badly that miss will cost the Gunners come the end of the season.

Under pressure and sensing they had gotten extremely lucky, Chelsea turned their attentions to the Arsenal goal and the much coveted Lukasz Fabianski who stood between its posts.  Much is made of the attacking threat with which Arsenal are so blessed, but just as much is made of their instability in defence and Chelsea seemed to be under clear orders to test Fabanski’s nerve.

The home side replied to Arsenal with a corner of their own.  Drogba’s delivery was met by the rising Michael Essien but the Ghana international couldn’t direct his header on target.  It was a free header, and both sides were equally wasteful with their early chances but it proved for a lively and entertaining first half.

Arsenal promptly looked to open the scoring themselves through Andre Arshavin.  The Russian will always prove to be one of Arsenal’s most lethal weapons, even if he looks for long periods of the game not to be too heavily involved.  Receiving a pass from a central position, the forward controlled the ball just outside the area and let fly with a swerving effort that goalkeeper Petr Cech did well to save.

The game looked as though it could go either way, but it would not be too kind to the visitors to say that they deserved to be in front.  However, Wenger will know more than anyone, if you come to the Bridge and don’t capitalise when you’re on top, then you end up ruing missed opportunities.  And that’s exactly what happened in the 39th minute.

Ashley Cole did well to find the time and space to cross out on the left, and the dominating figure of a certain Didier Drogba got enough on the centre to steer the ball in at the near post.  Drogba 1, Arsenal 0.

Chelsea almost doubled their lead moments later as the Gunner’s defence again revealed cracks.  Nicolas Anelka robbed a hesitant Sebastien Squillaci, rounded the onrushing Fabianski leaving him with the simple task of rolling the ball into an empty net.  Unfortunately the Frenchman was forced too wide; the angle proving too tight.

The second half played much the same tune as the first- Arsenal dominating but guilty of wastefulness.  If Wenger hadn’t told his team how frustrated he was in the dressing room, it was clear from the touchline that he was not happy with their lack of cutting edge.  Chamakh was perhaps the main culprit as the striker once again headed wide when it looked easier to find the net.

Whilst the hosts never really played to the intensity that made them champions last term, they showed that they have the mettle, the determination and the luck of real title winners.  Perhaps more importantly, they had real cutting edge and in the end it’s goals that prove decisive.  With time running out for the Gunners, their eagerness to win back the ball led to a Chelsea free-kick just outside the area.  From a central position, the Brazilian Alex thundered a spectacular drive that gave Fabianski no chance and gave Chelsea a 2 goal lead with five minutes on the clock.  In mimicry of legendary countryman Roberto Carlos, the right footed strike looked to be heading one way before swerving in the other direction.

Breaking the net also broke Arsenal hearts, and travelling fans will go home cursing missed opportunities despite the fact that their team played much the better football.  Drogba paved the way for another famous victory against Arsenal and the Ivorian will be wishing he could play the Gunners every week.  You don’t necessarily have to play well as long as you boast the goal-scoring machine that is Didier Drogba.

Watch the match highlights.

Player Ratings

Chelsea: Cech 6, Cole 6, Terry, 6, Alex 8, Ivanovich 6, Essien 7, Ramires 5, Mikel 7, Malouda 6, Anelka 6, Drogba 8

Arsenal: Fabianski 5, Sagna 7, Koscielny 6, Squillaci 6, Clichy 7, Diaby 7, Nasri 6, Song 7, Wilshere 7, Arshavin 7, Chamakh 6

How big a blow is it for Chelsea’s rivals to see them go 4 points clear?…Is it too early to say?…What did you make of Drogba’s performance?…please leave your comments below

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