Arsenal 1 Chelsea 2: Lessons as the Blues snatch victory at The Emirates
Arsenal 1 Chelsea 2: What did we learn as Roberto Di Matteo's side continued their superb form with victory at The Emirates?
Torres ends Arsenal duck with cunning finish
Ahead of Chelsea’s trip to The Emirates, Fernando Torres’ electric start to the Premier League season – he netted against Reading and Newcastle United – had started to fizzle out. The Spain international was without a goal in four games and he cut a particularly frustrated figure when substituted in the Blues’ goalless draw with Queens Park Rangers. Prior to Saturday’s fixture, Torres had failed to net a Premier League goal against Arsenal since moving to the England top flight in 2007, unlike his former team-mate Didier Drogba who put 13 goals past the Gunners during his time at Chelsea. But the former Liverpool striker ended that unfavourable record with a cunning strike in the 20th minute. Juan Mata’s free-kick was allowed to drift across Vito Mannone’s goal and Torres optimistically wrapped his right leg around Laurent Koscielny’s body and steered his shot into the Arsenal net – it was his 75th Premier League goal. He had a chance to double Chelsea’s lead as Arsene Wenger’s defence were rocking, breaking one-on-one with Mannone but a challenge from Koscielny prompted Torres to miss his kick and the chance evaporated. The Chelsea striker is still far from his best, and all too often, the 28-year-old is guilty of slowing down his side’s counter-attacking moves, but progress has been made in his Blues career.
Gervinho responds to blue performance at City
Gervinho produced a wayward performance in a 1-1 draw with Manchester City last weekend, with the Ivory Coast international fluffing three excellent opportunities – he either blasted wide or over the crossbar much to the frustration of the travelling Arsenal fans. It was perhaps indicative of the 25-year-old’s time in the Premier League so far – it has been hit and miss. Before the trip to the Etihad, the striker netted twice in a 6-1 victory over Southampton, and despite a frustrating display at Eastlands, Wenger persevered with the former Lille front-man and it paid dividends. In the 42nd minute, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s low cross found Gervinho in the eight-yard box, and the African striker controlled the pass superbly before quickly turning and crashing an equaliser into the roof of Petr Cech’s net. It was emphatic and took his tally to four goals for the season, which equals his total for the entire 2011/12 campaign. Apart from his strike, Gervinho struggled to really test a Chelsea defence which were quick to halt most promising Arsenal attacks, with the striker losing possession on four occasions when running at Di Matteo’s rearguard.
Koscielny’s defensive nightmare
Arsenal’s much-improved defensive record has been rightly lauded this term, with most of the plaudits headed in Steve Bould’s direction after the former Gunners centre-half replaced Pat Rice as Wenger’s number two in the summer. Per Mertesacker has deputised for Koscielny in the Gunners’ opening three games, which all finished in clean sheets, before the French defender returned to the starting line-up against City. Wenger opted to start Koscielny alongside Thomas Vermaelen for the visit of the Champions League winners but the centre-half endured a nightmare afternoon. He was the man assigned to mark Torres when the Spanish striker netted a 20th minute opener, out-muscling his French opponent to guide his finish past Mannone. In the 53rd minute, a soft free-kick provided Juan Mata with the opportunity to curl a dangerous set-piece across Mannone’s goal, with Koscielny’s desperate slide into the eight-yard box distracting the Arsenal goalkeeper, allowing Mata’s cross to beat the entire Arsenal rearguard and nestle into the left corner of the net.
Diaby’s injury woes continue
Arsenal’s encouraging start to the Premier League campaign has coincided with the improved performance from previously berated youngsters Aaron Ramsey and Carl Jenkinson, combined with Abou Diaby’s return to the first-team after a season spent sidelined by injury. France manager Didier Deschamps described Diaby as “the complete midfielder” following France’s recent victory over Norway and the 26-year-old has been like a new signing for the Gunners, impressing in a 2-0 victory at Anfield. However, his miserable fitness record came to fore against Chelsea, with Diaby forced off after just 17 minutes. Wenger threw Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain into the fray, and although the England international played a role in Chelsea’s opener, it was the youngster’s run and subsequent cross which handed Gervinho the chance to level in the 42nd minute. But Diaby’s absence was notable as John Obi Mikel and Ramires were too strong for Mikel Arteta, Santi Cazorla and Ramsey.