With Manchester City taking all three points at Villa Park on Saturday night, Chelsea knew that a win would see them regain their five point lead at the top of the Premier League table.
Jose Mourinho went into the game boasting an unbeaten record against rival manager, Arsene Wenger. The London derby historically promised goals, as proven last season when Arsenal suffered a humiliating 6-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge.
The match was delayed by fifteen minutes after Arsenal fans were letting off flares around the entrance to the ground. When the game finally got under way, both teams gave little away in the early moments. There was an early scare for Chelsea in the 10th minute, when a chipped ball over the top of the Chelsea defence allowed Alexis Sanchez to chase it down.
The Chilean was never going to beat Thibaut Courtois to the ball, however Sanchez couldn’t stop and collided with the Blues keeper. The Chelsea physios rushed onto the pitch to check on the Belgian keeper, who appeared to be relatively okay. However, he was forced off in the 22nd minute due to bleeding from his ear, with veteran Petr Cech coming on as his replacement.
Eden Hazard brought the game to life with a glittering run in the 26th minute, taking the ball past three Arsenal players with ease only to be hacked down by Laurent Koscielny. A penalty was given and the French defender received a yellow card, despite an outcry for him to be sent off by the Chelsea team. The PFA young player of the year stepped up and calmly rolled the ball past Wojciech Szczesny, making it 1-0 to the Blues.
It was unexpectedly Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho who caught the eye in the first half. After a hefty challenge from Gary Cahill on Alexis Sanchez, Wenger was infuriated and confronted Mourinho. The pair exchanged words and had to be separated by fourth official John Moss.
With just minutes to go before half time, young Arsenal right-back Callum Chambers was lucky not to see red following a brilliant long range pass from Eden Hazard. The ball found Andre Schurrle, who took on Chambers and was brought down on the edge of the area, however no card was shown. A tight first half ended with the score remaining at 1-0. Neither team had really created any clear-cut chances, but tempers were running high and the first half lived up to the expectations.
Arsenal started the second half as the better team and had an early opportunity to equalise when the ball was played across the Chelsea penalty area. Wilshere let it run to Santi Cazorla, however the Spaniard dragged his shot wide.
Eden Hazard was once again causing Callum Chambers problems in the 57th minute, as he drove down the left wing. Chambers knew he couldn’t get too close or he would be in trouble. Hazard drilled a powerful cross across the box, however tenacious midfielder Mathieu Flamini blocked the cross and was fortunate to not score an own as the ball drilled off the post and went out for a corner.
A well organised and well-structured Chelsea defence were holding out and dealing with the little Arsenal had to offer going forward.
Chelsea killed the game off in the 78th minute, when the ex-Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas playing a long through ball over the top of the Arsenal back line straight into the path of Diego Costa. Costa brought the ball down excellently on his chest and dinked the ball over the rushing Arsenal keeper. Costa, who hadn’t had too much to do until this point, did not switch off and took his chance when it came.
A professional performance from Chelsea – their big players stepped up when they needed to. The win sees Chelsea regain a thoroughly deserved five point lead at the top of the Premier League.