Chelsea extended their lead over Manchester United at the summit of the Premier League with a 3-0 win against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium this afternoon.
Glancing at the scoreline and you might think the Blues dominated the game. I’m sure there will be many that will criticise Arsenal’s lack of height in midfield and say Chelsea won the physical battle.
That’s not the case.
In reality, Chelsea were fortunate to go in at half-time two goals to the good. They took the lead by virtue of a hopeful cross into the box by Ashley Cole, this was met in the box by Didier Drogba who seemed to mishit his shot. His attempt looped up off the crossbar and bounced off the post before spinning into the back of the net.
The Ivory Coast international even admitted his stroke of good fortune after the game, telling Chelsea's official website: "I was a bit lucky to score the first goal."
Three minutes later and Thomas Vermaelen conceded an own goal in a similar fashion, with ex-Gunner Cole providing a cross that span off the Belgian’s foot and into his own top corner.
The game was effectively over at this point. Chelsea have only conceded eight goals this season, so for Arsenal to score three in 45 minutes of football would have required a huge upset.
Lady luck failed to shine on Arsenal for a third time just after half-time, as they had a goal chalked off for a dubious foul against Petr Cech by Eduardo. Referee Andre Marriner decided Eduardo had kicked the ball out of the ‘keepers hands to set-up Andrey Arshavin.
It looked as though this was the wrong decision, as Cech didn’t have control of the ball when Eduardo made contact.
Arsenal looked to lose heart after this moment. Wenger, to his credit, tried to seize back the momentum by making three quick-fire substitutions. Unfortunately for the Frenchman, these didn’t work and Chelsea killed the game with a third goal in the final stages.
It was an excellent goal by Drogba, a wonderful free-kick by the Ivorian that left Manuel Almunia stranded.
Of course Chelsea’s excellent defence must be acknowledged, whenever Arsenal engineered even the slightest opening there was always a blue shirt there to snuff out any danger. Chelsea were magnificent in blocking and stifling the Gunner’s attacking play.
This task was made easier by a two-goal advantage, which allowed Chelsea’s midfield to drop deep and neutralise Arsenal’s advances.
Chelsea deserve the plaudits for seeing out the game, they are an effective team that are world class at defending a lead, but to suggest that this game demonstrates Chelsea are a cut above Arsenal would be a mistake.
Fortune was ultimately the deciding factor.