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Arsenal 1 - 0 Chelsea


BlueLion.

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Arsenal 1 - 0 Chelsea FC

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Premier League, 16 December, 16:00 KO, Ashburton Grove Stadium, London

Former Chelsea defender William Gallas netted a first-half header to seal Arsenal's first win against Chelsea in almost four years.

The Frenchman, now Arsenal's captain, capitalised on an uncharacteristic error from Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech and headed home from close range. The Gunners also had two further efforts controversially ruled out, although Chelsea were far from being second-best throughout the game. The FA Cup holders created the best chances of the first period, but it was Gallas' header which ultimately proved decisive.

Perhaps worse news for Chelsea fans is the lengthy period skipper John Terry faces on the sidelines, after breaking three bones in his foot following a bad challenge by Ivorian Emmanuel Eboue. With Liverpool in midweek, Chelsea may be without both regular centre-halves for their League Cup quarter-final at Stamford Bridge.

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Cech made his first appearance in the Premier League since early November as Ashley Cole started against his former club. Ferreira and Makelele made starts, with Belletti on the bench and Michael Essien serving the second of his three-game suspension. With no Didier Drogba, Andrei Shevchenko began as a lone striker, with Joe Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips operating out wide.

Robin Van Persie was fit but began on the bench for the home side, who welcomed back Cesc Fabregas and Mathieu Flamini, the latter having scored against Chelsea the previous season. Aleksandr Hleb also returned from injury to boost the Arsenal midfield, and Adebayor looked to score for the first time against Chelsea.

The first-half was a dull affair, as both sides attempted to stamp their authority on the game. A typical London derby, the game was tight with players looking to force errors in the opposition. Chelsea's five-man midfield frustrated the free-flowing passing of Arsene Wenger's side, who were limited to long-range efforts.

Cesc Fabregas looked to break the midfield and his energetic run saw him complete a wonderful one-two with Mathieu Flamini. Denied space by the stubborn Chelsea backline, he returned the ball to Flamini who found Adebayor in space. The Togo striker's effort was powerful, but the long-range strike high and wide as he took one touch too many.

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Arsenal nearly pounced on lapse concentration. A long ball from Clichy was met by Alex, who, under pressure from Adebayor, looped his clearing header over Petr Cech. Luckily for Chelsea fans, the header was beyond the near post, but it was a sign that Chelsea were lacking discipline in Carvalho's absence.

At the other end, Chelsea went close. Good defensive work by Lampard and then Joe Cole saw Wright-Phillips break over the halfway line with Shevchenko. Not seeing the run of Cole, Wright-Phillips went for glory, but his driving effort was excellently gathered by Almunia, diving to his left to get clutch the greasy ball. Adebayor found himself in the referee's notebook not longer afterwards for a high challenge on Ashley Cole, which left the defender in some discomfort.

Lampard and Terry followed suit, first with Lampard's challenge and then the Chelsea captain's follow-through on Fabregas after Makelele had lost possession. The game was heating up and the crowd were in full voice, but they were almost silenced by Shevchenko's snap-shot which had Almunia worrying. However, the Spaniard fisted away the fierce drive before it was cleared.

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A hugely significant event occurred on 38 minutes, when Eboue and Terry clashed. The England skipper was fouled as he went to block the Ivorian's shot inside the box, as Eboue clipped him. He was clearly in agony and was quickly taken off. Scans later revealed that the Chelsea number 26 suffered three broken metatarsals, and will face up to six weeks out. Eboue was booked as Terry made way for Tal Ben Haim to enter the fray.

Arsenal finished the half the brighter of the sides, and Rosicky went close with a driven effort from an acute angle, but Cech watched the ball go narrowly wide. Lapse defending gave the Czech player a run at goal, but his effort fizzed wide. He troubled the Chelsea defence again in first-half stoppage time, but Paulo Ferreira's perfectly-timed recovery challenge forced the ball out for a corner. The resulting corner by Fabregas saw Cech at full stretch, but the goalkeeper was left bemused when the ball evaded his grip and found its way in to the net, courtesy of ex-Chelsea centre-back William Gallas, who headed in from close range.

But the second period proved Chelsea to be no pushovers, as Wright-Phillips and Joe Cole combined to create a good opportunity. Cole won the ball in midfield and jinxed beyond Hleb, before seeking out Wright-Phillips with a diagonal ball. Wright-Phillips teased the ball to the bi-lined before launching a driven cross into the box, but beyond the outstretching Shevchenko and the far post.

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Mikel went close soon after with a rasping effort which was palmed away by the despairing dive of Almunia in the Chelsea website. Shevchenko pounced on the loose ball, but his tame effort was easily gathered by the goalkeeper at the near post. Toure and Joe Cole both found their way in Alan Wiley's notebook for dissent and foul play respectively. Moments later, Eboue felt the full force of a hard-but-fair Mikel challenge, and the Ivorian was stretchered off the field.

Van Persie was introduced to the action and his snap-shot had Cech scrambling to palm the ball away, before it was eventually cleared by the goalkeeper following a lapse in concentration on Ben Haim's part. At the other end, Wright-Phillips volleyed wide from 4 yards with Almunia stranded after Shevchenko intelligently flicked on. It was clearly not going to be Chelsea's day.

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Van Persie fired over from 12 yards after a fantastic, paced attack by the home side which saw two Chelsea defenders covering the runs of five Arsenal forwards, but the stretching leg of the Dutchman followed through and the ball was lashed high over Cech's crossbar.

Kalou hit the side-netting with a wonderful effort from a position not too dissimilar to where Rosicky had tested Cech in the first half, but it was covered by Almunia. Van Persie found the net immediately after an Arsenal counter-attack following Ferreira's lazy pass, but Rosicky had strayed too far ahead of the covering defender in the build up.

Petr Cech made amends with a double save from Fabregas. The initial save was brilliant, blocking the drilled attempt with his fingertips, before saving the follow-up from the Spaniard with his legs. If ever there was a player who could be relied on, it was Cech, who was still visibly furious with himself following his earlier error. Shevchenko wasted a glorious opportunity soon after, directing his header too close to Almunia. The frustration etched into his face personified a truly bad day at the office for the Blues, although he did go close again with a free-kick which Almunia excellently tipped over.

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Ashley Cole and Fabregas were yellow carded for their part in what was more than an unfriendly word or two, after the Spaniard had tripped Cole with a late challenge. Cole's retaliation was stupid, before apparently lashing out at the Arsenal midfielder. The final whistle blew, and the Emirates erupted.

_______________________________________

Match Fact : José Mourinho had been unbeaten in his eight encounters against Arsenal, winning four - including the League Cup final last campaign - and drawing four.

Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Gallas, Clichy, Eboue (Van Persie 69), Flamini, Fabregas, Rosicky, Hleb (Silva 77), Adebayor (Bendtner 90).

Subs Not Used: Lehmann, Senderos.

Booked: Adebayor, Eboue, Flamini, Toure, Fabregas.

Goals: Gallas 45.

Chelsea: Cech (6), Ferreira (7), Alex (6), Terry (6) (Ben-Haim (5)), Ashley Cole (7), Wright-Phillips (5) (Kalou (6)), Mikel (7), Makelele (5) (Pizarro (6)), Lampard (5), Joe Cole (6), Shevchenko (6)

Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Belletti.

Booked: Terry, Lampard, Joe Cole, Ben-Haim, Mikel.

Attendance: 60,139

Referee: Alan Wiley

Man of the Match : John Obi Mikel

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Edited by BlueLion
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