Blues inflict double trouble on Arsenal
Written By: Robert Halter
Chelsea looked to improve their home form in January, after losing 1-0 to West London neighbours QPR in the league and then trailing 2-0 to Swansea City in the first leg of the Capital One Cup Semi Final, the Blues let a two goal lead slip in the midweek draw with Southampton in the Premiership which put more emphasis on a victory with the visit of Arsenal to Stamford Bridge, as the sixth placed Gunners were eight points off Chelsea in third spot. On four minutes, Santi Cazorla combined with Theo Walcott but an unmarked Olivier Giroud spurned the opportunity by turning the ball wide. Two minutes later the Gunners were punished, as a crunching tackle by Ramires on Francis Coquelin, left the Arsenal defender reeling in agony and as Cesar Azpilicueta picked up the loose ball, he clipped it over to Juan Mata, who fired the ball over Wojciech Szczesny, high into the back of the net. As Arsenal looked for a route back into the game, Cazorla tested Petr Cech at distance with a long range effort, after a neat lay off by Kieran Gibbs in the ninth minute. But within sixty seconds, Chelsea threatened again as Eden Hazard weaved his way through to the right side of the area, before being thwarted by a near post block by Szczesny. In the sixteenth minute, the day got worse for Arsenal as Szczesny’s trailing leg pulled down Ramires in the area. As referee Martin Atkinson pointed to the spot and booked the Gunners keeper, Blues captain Frank Lampard calmly rolled the dead ball past Szczesny to double Chelsea’s lead. As the snow flakes made playing conditions difficult, Ramires was guilty of a glaring miss in the thirty fifth minute, as he shot wildly wide while right of the target. The Gunners got out of the traps quickly for the second half, with first Cech comfortably saving from Per Mertesacker and then stopping Theo Walcott’s tamely hit effort. Finally Arsenal’s efforts paid off after Fernando Torres was caught in possession and it created the space for Cazorla to float the ball over for Walcott, who raced clean through before striking the ball past Cech, to pull a goal back for the Gunners in the fifty eighth minute. This was followed by an Arsenal substitution of Coquelin for Aaron Ramsey and then Chelsea later took off Oscar for Ryan Bertrand. With the game approaching seventy two minutes, Szczesny was forced to pull off a save to stop Ramires’s low long range drive. The next step for the Gunners was for Andrey Arshavin to replace Abou Diaby. With ten minutes of normal time remaining Demba Ba took over from Torres and after Bertrand’s lofted ball forward, it was Ba that could have put the game to bed as he went past Szczesny before his final shot was cleared away close to the goal line, by Gunners captain Thomas Vermaelen in the eighty second minute. Five minutes later, Vermaelen was unable to convert a free kick up field, after Ashley Cole had fouled Bacary Sagna, which was followed by Marko Marin taking over from Hazard. Arsenal exerted pressure at the end as Giroud’s header went over but it was Chelsea who were celebrating a crucial win in the capital crunch match after hanging on for a 2-1 victory.