Arsenal came from behind to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, courtesy of a Robin van Persie brace.
The Gunners came from a goal down to win 2-1 at Stamford Bridge in a closely fought encounter, with van Persie grabbing both of the Gunners’ goals in a matter of a few second half minutes.
Arsenal arrived at Stamford Bridge hoping to bounce back from consecutive league defeats and with Cesc Fabregas leading the Gunners out for the first time in the Premier League.
Arsene Wenger was boosted by the return of Emmanuel Adebayor who partnered Robin van Persie up front with Bacary Sagna returning at right back and Samir Nasri restored to midfield.
Chelsea, meanwhile were without Joe Cole and the banned Didier Drogba with Luiz Felipe Scolari deciding to recall Deco after his Champions League suspension and Saloman Kalou.
The home side certainly began the brighter, anxious to improve on a home record that has appeared less than invincible this season.
Yet Arsenal weathered the initial onslaught and new captain Fabregas was the first to try his luck, forcing Petr Cech into a save just after the ten minute mark.
The Czech parried the ball which almost fell to William Gallas, of all people, for a tap in however the ball fell agonisingly behind the onrushing defender.
Indeed mid-way through the opening period Scolari’s men almost opened the scoring after a superb move.
However, just on the half hour mark the home side finally made the breakthrough. A poor throw out by Almunia saw Chelsea regain quickly possession before a wicked ball in by Bosingwa was diverted by Djourou past his own goalkeeper.
Minutes later and Scolari’s men almost doubled their lead. Deco played a cute ball through to Kalou but Sagna was on hand to make a great saving challenge and clear the danger.
The Blues came out for the second period in much the same mood with Lampard almost making it two, five minutes after half-time.
Arsenal, by contrast, were struggling to get into the match yet they managed to pull one back against the run of play just before the hour mark.
A long ball forward was headed down by Adebayor and fell to Nasri who poked it across to Denilson. The Brazilian then slipped it to a suspiciously offside looking van Persie to rifle home from the edge of the box.
Minutes later and matters got even worse for Chelsea as Arsenal took the lead. Fabregas drifted a free kick into the box which was headed down again by Adebayor and van Persie on the turn fired it home low and into the far corner to give the Gunners the lead.
Chelsea were stunned and with few options on the bench chose to bring on one of their few attacking options Malouda replaced Mikel.
Yet whilst they saw plenty of the ball they rarely threatened Almunia and it was Arsenal who were looking the more dangerous side on the break, unafraid to commit numbers forward.
In the end it was fairly comfortable for the Gunners who held on to hand Fabregas a first league win as skipper and what must be a hugely satisfying result for Arsene Wenger.
Scolari and Chelsea, meanwhile, have much to ponder and after toiling at Stamford Bridge yet again may just be relieved that their next fixture is away from home.
The result means Arsenal climb back into the top four in the Premier League table and get their title bid back on track.
Dutch striker van Persie feels that Arsenal showed great strength and character to come from a goal down to win the game.
Speaking to Sky Sports hee said, “It was a big win. In the last 20 minutes we showed a lot of character and discipline so the whole team deserve a big compliment. When you are playing against Chelsea on their own ground and go 1-0 down, you know it’s going to be really difficult. To win the game in the end and the way we did it was great for the team. Today is not my day, it’s our day. I was the one who scored the two goals but that doesn’t really matter. It was the whole squad that did it.”
But at the end of the game van Persie hugged his team mate Gallas and said, “There wasn’t a problem at all between [himself and Gallas]. He’s a respectable colleague of mine and a good player.”
“It gives us the belief we can come back, but what kind of impact it will have on Chelsea, I do not know,” said Wenger after the game.
“It was a massive win for us. To lose would have put us 13 points away and that would have been too much.”
And he praised his team’s resilience and character to put the recent turbulent times at the club behind them and fight back to win the game.
“We were unlucky to be 1-0 down at half-time and slowly moved on top and won the battle in the middle of the park. I am a very, very happy man tonight and we have now beaten Manchester United and Chelsea in a convincing way.”
“It is still hard [to win the title], but not impossible. Now it is down to our desire to win in the coming months,” he said.
When Robin van Persie equalised for Arsenal against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge today he was in an offside position.
That’s what Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari thinks and he wants an apology from referee Mike Dean as to why he didn’t see it the same way.
“I want only after tomorrow that he (Dean) looks at the TV and the referee and the linesman see they are wrong, and they say ‘sorry’,” said ‘Big Phil’, speaking after the match.
“That is all I want, no more, because they were not good and made a mistake. We need a referee that comes to Stamford Bridge who referees for both sides, not just for one.
“Have you ever heard me speak about referees any time in the games I have been here? Never, in 15 in the Premier League, four in the Champions League, the Carling Cup, I have not said anything, but today is different.”
“I do not want three points, all I want is them to say sorry it was a mistake, because in the first half, the same linesman made a mistake against us with (Salomon) Kalou,” he went on.
“He is human and he can make a mistake, but the offside has killed my team. I just want them to say they are wrong, because I am wrong when I put some players in, or the players are wrong when they make a mistake in front of goal or are not covering. These are all wrong, but the referee is never wrong. I do not think they came here to deliberately make a mistake against us.”
Scolari also felt that the referee’s decisions had had a deep psychological effect on his team who found it hard to lift themselves to fight back after the equaliser had gone in.
As it stands, Arsenal are now in fourth place and sit seven points behind Chelsea. In this highly competitive Premier League season that is not an insurmountable margin and Scolari would seem to be worried.
1-0 Chelsea (Djourou o.g., 30)
1-1 Arsenal (van Persie, 59)
1-2 Arsenal (van Persie, 61)
Chelsea: Cech; Bosingwa; Ivanovic, Terry, Ashley Cole, Mikel (Malouda, 69); Ballack, Deco (Stoch, 80), Lampard; Kalou, Anelka.
Arsenal: Almunia; Sagna, Gallas, Djourou, Clichy; Denilson, Fabregas, Song, Nasri; Adebayor (Bendtner, 83), Van Persie.
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