- English Barclays Premier League
- 20 January 2013, 1:30pm
- Stamford Bridge
- Attendance: 41,784
FULL-TIME: CHELSEA HOLD ON! They see off corner after corner and Giroud's looping header onto the roof of the net is the last piece of goal-mouth action we see. Chelsea were absolutely cruising at one point but their failure to properly kill the game off gave Arsenal renewed hope. That nervy win takes the Blues onto 45 points in third spot. Arsenal stay six points behind Tottenham in fourth spot, who of course in action against Man United very soon. Thanks for joining Orange's coverage. Stick around for the match report.
90+2 mins: Arsenal are really pushing for the equaliser. Walcott looks to be in on goal again but Cahill makes a fantastic last-ditch tackle!
90 mins: As Chelsea are left reeling from a penalty decision that goes against them, Arsenal launch the counter which results in Giroud firing an ambitious volley from a good 45 yards out! What is he thinking?! FIVE minutes added on.
88 mins: With victory almost in sight for the Blues, Rafa winds down the clock a little more by bringing off Hazard for Marin.
87 mins: Chelsea are living very dangerously here! They fail to clear a free-kick and Cole, who receives a yellow card, brings down Sagna right on the edge of the area. Vermaelen tries to be the hero at both ends but belts the free-kick wide!
83 mins: WHAT a stop from the Verminator! Ba looks to be putting this game beyond all doubt as he rounds Szczesny. He takes the shot on early which gives the Arsenal captain enough time to stick a leg out on the line. Torres would have scored from there!
82 mins: I completely missed Arshavin coming on for Diaby. Don't worry, you haven't missed much from him.
Dave, York -"Ba-Torres.Torres-Ba.Ba every time for me."
80 mins: Vermaelen makes two crucial interventions to keep Arsenal in this and there's cheers as Torres comes off to be replaced by Ba. Not even a new haircut could help the Spaniard today.
77 mins: Just as I type that, Wilshere is hounded off the ball inside his own defensive third. The ball falls to Torres though who fails to test Szczesny.
75 mins:Arsenal are just trying to force their way in on goal now with time running out. The Chelsea players are pressing them all over the field though which is making the task of finding the equaliser that little bit harder.
72 mins:Is this more negativity from Rafa? He brings off Oscar and replaces him with the more defensively-minded Bertrand.
69 mins: All of a sudden, Torres looks to have found his pace again as he gallops towards the Arsenal goal. An awful touch once in the area though gives the ball straight to Szczesny!
Dan, Stoke - "Rafas negativity will cost blues again, 2-0 is a dangerous lead to sit back on"
66 mins:It's curled into the wall and deflects behind, resulting in another corner wasted by Arsenal. The Spurs v Man Utd game has been given the go ahead by the way.
65 mins: Mata is booked after kicking the ball away in disgust at the ref's decision to award Arsenal a free-kick right on the edge of the box. Cazorla the man to take it...
63 mins:"Come on Chelsea!" is the cry from the nervy home fans. They can really sense now that Arsenal are looking likely to score again. Surely there can't be a repeat of the Southampton game?!
61 mins: Coquelin picks up one knock too many and is replaced by fellow midfield Ramsey. Then, Walcott drives at the Chelsea defence before poking a left-footed effort wide of the right post!
58 MINS: ARSENAL BACK IN IT! Now then! We have a game on again! WALCOTT finally keeps himself onside this time as races onto a through ball. He then remains calm and composed when guiding it past the oncoming Cech!
56 mins: Oh Giroud! It's put on the biggest plate for him to attack the ball deep inside the six-yard box but instead he heads it tamely to Cech!
55 mins: Not an awful lot happening at the moment as Chelsea look to progress down the right with a series of throws.
Ben -"got 2 on 2-1 with mata first goal scorer at a handsome 35-1, hopefully a nice little pay out and 3 pts on the way!"
51 mins: Chelsea ponder forward for the first time since the restart but Azpilicueta's deflected cross loops up and over everyone.
48 mins: Arsenal have come out pumped up and determined to reduce the deficit. Mertesacker cracks a shot straight at Cech after latching onto Ivanovic's mistimed header and Walcott cuts in from the right to get a shot on target.
45 mins: Welcome back for the second-half where both sides remain unchanged. It doesn't look too promising for Spurs v Man Utd later, with the ground staff struggling to keep the pesky snow off the pitch. Fingers crossed we get some more live football!
HALF-TIME: Chelsea head into the break in a very comfortable position after steamrolling Arsenal for much of the first-half. The Gunners have been infuriating to watch once again so far, with the continually offside Walcott providing much of the frustration. Is there any way back for Arsene Wenger's side? Join me in 15 minutes to find out.
45 mins: One minute added on at Stamford Bridge.
44 mins: It's a good job Chelsea have a comfortable lead as Torres may have received a few boos after he skews a shot over from close range. A dreadful finish.
41 mins: Arsenal launch an attack which ends with Walcott being caught offside again. He's not enjoying being stuck out on the right wing again.
38 mins: Azpilicueta gets to right byline and then pulls the back for Lampard who is poised to volley from 18 yards. Mertesacker sticks out a leg though to divert the danger away.
35 mins: Ramires passes Gibbs with worrying ease but then goes onto blasting a horrid shot into the top tier of Arsenal fans.
33 mins: More agony for Arsenal as the offside flag brings Walcott's dash into the box to an abrupt end. Oh Arsenal.
Dave, York -"Lampard the mainstay of Chelsea`s midfield. They will miss him when he goes."
31 mins: A rare glimmer of hope for Arsenal as Wilshere lifts a fantastic ball into Giroud in the area. The Frenchman is eventually outmuscled though by Ivanovic and Cahill.
27 mins: Sagna falls asleep (again) which allows Cole to float in completely unnoticed. He tries to head the ball into Torres's path but the Spaniard can't get on the end of it.
25 mins: Much to Arsenal's relief, Chelsea have calmed down a little since Lampard's pen. They are still trying their luck down the right though with Mata's latest cross headed away.
22 mins: Chelsea are having most of their joy down the right wing. Hazard receives the ball in area twice in a couple of minutes but cannot find a way past Szczesny this time.
19 mins: This looks all done and dusted already! The Arsenal midfield have been non-existant so far. Mata, Lampard and Hazard are having a field day.
16 MINS: 2-0 TO CHELSEA! Never in doubt from LAMPARD! He steps up in his usual confident manner and places the ball to Szczesny's left as he dives the wrong way. Chelsea cruising!
15 MINS: PENALTY TO CHELSEA! Arsenal are all over the place! A sluggish Diaby is caught on the ball deep inside his own half, allowing Chelsea to surge forward. Mata waltzes his way along the right-edge of the box before passing to Ramires. The Brazilian almost freezes in front of goal but he does enough to draw a foul from Szczesny who is a tad lucky just to see yellow!
12 mins: I know we can get sick of the sight of Wenger moaning away on the sidelines but he has a point here. Ramires clearly caught Coquelin in the build-up to Chelsea's opener. How the ref didn't see it I do not know!
9 mins: It's a really open game this one as Cazorla forces Cech into a diving stop to his right-hand side. Seconds later, Torres slips in Hazard who sees his powerful strike from a narrow angle flapped behind.
6 MINS: CHELSEA TAKE THE LEAD! The Blues immediately go up the other end and score! Coquelin is down injured in centre-circle for Arsenal but play continues down Chelsea's right. The ball is played into Mata's feet, who then blasts it high into the net with Szczesny looking shell-shocked!
4 mins: Chelsea are absolutely dominating, but the first big chance falls to Arsenal! Walcott slides in Giroud with a great pass and the Frenchman cracks it inches wide of the right post. What an opportunity!
2 mins: Chelsea come out flying as they descend on Arsenal's penalty area straight from the off. Torres lays it off for Lampard, but his early sighter is always drifting wide.
Rich, Reading -"Goals in this. As a Gooner my heart says 3-2 Arsenal, my head says 3-1 Chelsea, betting slip says 2-2!"
0 mins: As I try and banish that cringeworthy Joe Hart shampoo advert from my mind, Chelsea kick-off in the driving snow in their blue shirts with Arsenal also wearing their home kits. Rafa won't have won many over picking Torres over Ba. I hope for his sake the snow has cleared around his dugout if things go wrong again!
1300: Good afternoon and welcome along to first of two big Premier League clashes (weather depending of course!). Just as it looked like Rafa Benitez was beginning to lay down the foundations at Chelsea, out came Southampton to knock it all down again with a brilliant midweek comeback. The Spaniard will be desperate to get back to winning ways again today and makes two changes with Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres in for David Luiz and Demba Ba.
Arsene Wenger names an unchanged side from their midweek success in the FA Cup, as he looks to inflict further damage on Chelsea's rocky season. However, he is without Lukas Poldolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who are out with the sniffles.
Orange's Mark Scott will bring you all the action live from 1330. He's tipping a 2-2 draw with Walcott the first scorer. Share your prediction and any bets you've got today by clicking on his name above.
- English Barclays Premier League
- 20 January 2013, 1:30pm
- Stamford Bridge
- Attendance: 41,784
Chelsea held off a spirited second-half fightback from Arsenal to triumph 2-1 at Stamford Bridge as Rafa Benitez enjoyed the rare pleasure of a home Premier League victory.
The Blues were dominant in the opening 45 minutes and were two goals to the good at the break courtesy of Juan Mata's early opener and a Frank Lampard penalty soon after.
But the Gunners were transformed after the interval and reduced the deficit through Theo Walcott before the hour mark, but could not find a leveller as Chelsea held out to avoid a repeat of their midweek misery when they blew a 2-0 lead against Southampton.
Arsenal missed a glorious opportunity to open the scoring with only five minutes on the clock as Walcott threaded a ball through to Olivier Giroud, only for the French striker to fire across the face of Petr Cech's goal and inches wide of the far post.
Chelsea then went straight to the other end of the field and took the lead, with Mata collecting Cesar Azpilicueta's diagonal pass before beating Wojciech Szczesny, although Arsene Wenger was infuriated by Ramires' challenge on Francis Coquelin in the build-up.
Cech then had to be alert to turn away a long-range stinger from Santi Cazorla, but that was the last real action of the half for the Blues goalkeeper, with only catching practice from Arsenal corners to trouble him.
With just 16 minutes on the clock, Chelsea were two goals to the good as Ramires fell over Szczesny's outstretched leg after initially robbing Abou Diaby in midfield before linking up with Mata and Fernando Torres. Referee Martin Atkinson pointed to the spot and booked the Gunners goalkeeper.
Lampard stepped up to send another reminder of his enduring qualities to the Chelsea hierarchy as he sent Szczesny the wrong way from the spot, but his recent run of good form appears unlikely to change the opinion of those in power with no new contract talks planned.
The remainder of the half mainly consisted of Arsenal chasing shadows as they simply could not cope with Chelsea's passing and movement, with Eden Hazard, Oscar and Mata all seeing plenty of the ball and the Gunners defence, with Bacary Sagna often culpable, stretched to the limit.
But the second half was an entirely different affair, with Arsenal pressing from the off and showing much greater drive and determination with Per Mertesacker and Walcott both testing Cech in the opening moments, while Giroud could have done better with a far post header from Gibbs' cross.
Walcott then brought them back into the game in the 58th minute as he timed his run to perfection, having been caught offside several times in the first half, collecting Cazorla's perfectly weighted pass before beating Cech with aplomb.
There were chances at both ends in an enthralling final 30 minutes, with Torres getting away from Mertesacker and Vermaelen before over-running the ball, while Demba Ba came on and saw his shot cleared off the line by the Belgian defender after rounding Szczesny.
Vermaelen then fizzed a free-kick narrowly wide, Gary Cahill put in a superb last-ditch tackle to deny Walcott and Giroud again headed off target in five minutes of added time as Chelsea claimed only their second Premier League victory at home under Benitez.