Sat 29 Sep 2012 12:45 (Attendance: 60,101)
After three home games in a row, the Blues hit the road once more, albeit one only eight miles long. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton point the compass north-east for the lunchtime London derby…
The first big 'capital classic' of the year is upon us. Both sides enjoyed confidence-boosting wins against lower league opposition in midweek, with visitors Chelsea having one day more to rest and prepare for the early kick-off.
This fixture will not be the same without a certain Ivorian, of course. 'I don't know if Chelsea miss him, but we don't miss him. He did a lot of damage against us,' said Arsène Wenger this week. He was referring to Didier Drogba, maestro of Munich, king of Wembley, spiker of the Gunners.
There is no doubt that the striker, now in China, had the number of Wenger's side, scoring an extraordinary 13 times in 10 matches. He failed to hit the net in just five of the games he started against Arsenal, and in three of those he set up a goal for someone else.
The north Londoners' defence may sleep more peacefully on Friday night in the knowledge they will not join Philippe Senderos and others as gibbering wrecks in the psychiatrist's chair at London Colney.
Yet as Wenger also conceded, the likes of Eden Hazard, whom he admires, are ushering in a new era at the Bridge. Now that the Frenchman has had laser treatment on his eyesight he might even concede the Belgian playmaker and Brazilian Oscar are being denied the type of penalties others seem to be awarded.
The Blues' transition under Roberto Di Matteo is still in its formative stage but the midweek League Cup showed the exhilarating potential of Chelsea's younger talent as we are weaned off Drogs.
Since 2004/05, the only Blues starting line-up with a lower average age than the 24.27 against Championship Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday was that which beat Zilina 2-1 in the 2010/11 group stage of the Champions League. The average age of players who kicked off in that match was 23.91.
The evolution from power to prowess on the ball was evident in the 6-0 thrashing of a weak Wolves, but the trick is to turn entertaining football into triumphant football. For seven years Arsenal have been masters of dazzle with accounts to gaze at but no silverware to polish. A load of goals past League One Coventry City is not yet enough to convince everyone they have kicked their habit.
There are signs they have tightened up the traditionally vulnerable defence, though, and Chelsea will hope to test that severely this weekend.
New boys Lucas Piazon and Cesar Azpilicueta slickly impressed on their debuts on Tuesday. Oriol Romeu bagged his first Chelsea goal with a well-executed penalty, won by Victor Moses, making his first start and running powerfully, then scoring his first too.
Fernando Torres, Drogba's successor as top dog, netted his first goal in five matches from a Juan Mata delivery, the Spanish midfielder in imperious form. Marko Marin, Mata's replacement from the bench, had a hand in the sixth and what should have been a seventh, for Torres.
The Blues' rearguard is also weighing in with unexpected regularity at the other end of the field.
Eight of the total 20 goals scored in all competitions have come from defenders. Members of the back four hit the first two goals in the midweek rout of Wolves. They were followed by two midfielders, then two forwards.
This was the first time Chelsea have ever won 6-0 with six different scorers, but not the only time half a dozen have hit the net in one game.
The first time was against Burslem Port Vale in March 1906, a 7-0 Division Two romp in which one player, Jack Kirwan, hit two. Martin Moran, Jackie Robertson, Frank Pearson, James Robertson and Bob McRoberts were the others.
In September 1971 in the Cup-Winners' Cup Jeunesse Hautcharage were slaughtered 13-0 and seven individuals hit the net - the highest number in any official Chelsea match - Peter Osgood, Tommy Baldwin, Ron Harris, Dave Webb, Alan Hudson, Peter Houseman and John Hollins.
The most recent occurrence was an FA Cup 6-2 victory in January 1978 over Burnley. The scorers then were Mickey Droy, Steve Wicks, Ray Wilkins, Tommy Langley, Kenny Swain and Clive Walker.
Each of those featured one penalty goal; our famous 8-0 May 2010 demolition of Wigan featured five different names on the scoresheet and two spot-kicks.
Never before have three different non-British players of the same nationality scored in one game for the Blues: the Spaniards Mata, Romeu and Torres now share that small honour.
While on defenders, Ryan Bertrand's sweetly executed finish past Dorus De Vries meant Blues left-backs had scored in successive matches for the first time since Graeme Le Saux and Danny Granville netted against Crystal Palace in the league (2-0) and Cup-Winners' Cup opponents Slovan Bratislava (3-0) respectively in September 1997. By coincidence the Blues then faced Arsenal straight afterwards.
Ahead of the same fixture Chelsea will fans need no reminding of the damage those rare full-back goals, especially late ones, can inflict: we think of Lee Dixon in 1995, Nigel Winterburn in 1997, or Silvinho three years later.
But the Blues boast the ultimate example: Highbury Stadium, 6 April 2004, Champions League second leg, Wayne Bridge, pandemonium. (The hosts may just be reminded on Saturday that more recently we have become London's first European champions in that competition.)
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Arsenal v Chelsea 12.45pm - Sky Sports
Everton v Southampton 3pm
Fulham v Manchester City 3pm
Norwich v Liverpool 3pm
Reading v Newcastle 3pm
Stoke v Swansea 3pm
Sunderland v Wigan 3pm
Manchester United v Tottenham 5.30 - ESPN
Aston Villa v West Brom 4pm - Sky Sports
QPR v West Ham 8pm - Sky Sports
|Barclays Premier League table top 10|
Premier League Golden Glove
Cech (Chelsea) 4
Foster (West Brom) 3
Jaaskelainen (West Ham) 3
Howard (Everton) 2
Mannone (Arsenal) 2
Schwarzer (Fulham) 2
Vorm (Swansea) 2
Click on tabs above for more briefing.
Joining club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton to complete their in-detail derbybuild-up is former player Clive Walker…
Joining club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton to complete their in-detail derbybuild-up is former player Clive Walker…
London's pride is up for grabs as the capital's top two meet for the first time this season. Clive Walker assesses the prospects for two stylish outfits.
'This is our second London derby of the season but it will be different to QPR. I can see it being cat-and-mouse, one for the purists, but lots of cleverness and fluid football. Both defences will have to be at their best.
'The one thing we know is that there will be a lot of creativity on show in this match: Juan Mata, Oscar, Eden Hazard for Chelsea and for Arsenal, Santi Cazorla. He has impressed people on the ball, and probes patiently while he's waiting for the right pass.
'Mikel Arteta orchestrates and allows Cazorla to have a pretty free rein. He makes them tick and the job of the more defensive-minded midfielders on our side is to close them down as quickly as possible.
'Ramires does well when facing play, running from deep. Whether it's on the right or left, where he played on Tuesday, he has the pace and energy to harass the opposition.
'Romeu and he were both excellent, but that was against Wolves: Arsenal away is a different proposition. I can see Mikel returning as he has been excellent this season. Robbie would want Frank Lampard in a derby game like this too. But he now knows he has options.
'There may be less concern about Gervinho in the centre than Lukas Podolski who looks like he is warming to the cause and he's certainly a threat and a target.
'He comes in from wide on the left, so Robbie Di Matteo has a big decision to make whether to throw in César Azpilicueta or keep Branislav Ivanovic in there.
'We know the height, defensive strength and experience Brana brings, and that might tip the balance. But I thought Azpi put in a terrific performance against Wolves. There were a few nervy passes early on - which a top side might have punished - but he was nice and bright going forward and very strong one-on-one at the back, without being asked too many questions.
'He looks to have quality on the ball with an excellent range of long and short passes and a trick or two at the other end, too. We haven't really witnessed it yet but he also has a monster throw-in apparently.
'The other thing is he has lightning pace - that is always useful against Arsenal. Remember the issues we had with the high defensive line in the home game last season.
'We may not have Drogba, who used to scare the living daylights out of Arsenal, but if I were them I'd be worried about the form of the three behind Fernando Torres. Juan Mata, Victor Moses, Oscar, Eden Hazard… whoever plays there, we're seeing terrific movement now, and it's bringing exciting football. I think Arsenal's centre-backs will find Hazard a real handful.
'Mata was outstanding in midweek. That short break seems to have energised him and he is dominating matches on the ball again. But it will not be so easy to find the space he needs against Arsenal - they're a quality side.
'It will be a big test for Abou Diaby to track those players and their fast interplay. They are fortunate to have Thomas Vermaelen (pictured below) back in the centre to partner Laurent Koscielny too, because to me Per Mertesacker still struggles at times. It was great to see Fernando Torres hit the net again; we need him firing on all cylinders in this one.
'I still feel Arsenal's full-backs are a little bit of an Achilles heel for them defensively. They leave gaps, especially on the right. Victor Moses might be involved after putting in some storming runs in the last few matches. He could really have a go at Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs and cause them lots of problems, especially with Ashley overlapping.'
For Arsenal, Thomas Vermaelen is due to return from illness but goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny is out with an ankle injury. Vito Mannone continues between the posts.
The game is also expected to come too early for Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and defender Bacary Sagna.
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WE HAVE HISTORY
This is the oldest London derby in the top flight, first contested in 1907/08. Fifty-five thousand saw the Blues triumph 2-1 at Stamford Bridge that season, with 25,000 fewer making it to the Manor Ground, Plumstead, for a 0-0 draw.
Between April 1959 and September 1956 the Blues enjoyed a wonderful unbeaten run at Highbury including six consecutive victories.
One of the most entertaining wins came in March 1964 (pictured below) under Tommy Docherty. The Doc's Diamonds were 'quicker and slicker' on a heavy, waterlogged pitch, according to the Daily Mirror reporter, with only debutant Peter Simpson, 18, matching up to his west London counterpart.
It was a derby that exploded into life, with the afternoon's main protagonist, Bobby Tambling, sprawled on the floor next to goalkeeper Jim Furnell, stabbing out a foot to poke the ball over the line for the opener after just a few minutes.
Terry Neill quickly equalised, side-footing in Geoff Strong's sideways pass. Both sides hit the woodwork but it was 1-1 at the break, after which Tambling - the only player not to have changed his mud-soaked shorts - and others made a mockery of awkward defender Ian Ure.
First, the Chelsea inside-right intercepted Ure's backward header, intended for his keeper, redirecting it into the net. When the same Gunners defender conceded possession to Frank Blunstone, the winger promptly beat three opponents and passed to Tambling for another simple goal. Tambling completed his third inside ten minutes and fourth of the game when Barry Bridges crossed for him.
Strong pulled one back with 15 minutes to go, and the game ended in bizarre fashion, with two Chelsea players requiring treatment for injury having collided, preventing George Armstrong, on his hands and knees, scoring in the six-yard box.
That came in a four-minute denouement during which a Blues fan was arrested for encroaching onto the pitch and having a few words with the referee, and Chelsea's centre-back John Mortimore was struck by a coin hurled from behind the North Bank goal.
Back to this weekend and Chelsea are hoping to avoid a third defeat in four games against the Gunners. The Blues have won two of the last four away league meetings however.
Carlo Ancelotti engineered Chelsea's last win at the Emirates in November 2009 when a brace from Didier Drogba and a Thomas Vermaelen own goal without reply secured the points for the Blues.
Arsenal have won four of the last 21 meetings in all competitions over the last eight years.
Our last 10 away league meetings at Arsenal
2002/03 - Arsenal won 3-2
2003/04 - Arsenal won 2-1
2004/05 - Drew 2-2
2005/06 - Chelsea won 2-0
2006/07 - Drew 1-1
2007/08 - Arsenal won 1-0
2008/09 - Chelsea won 4-1
2009/10 - Chelsea won 3-0
2010/11 - Arsenal won 3-1
2011/12 - Drew 0-0
Other match last season
29 October 2011 Premier League
Lampard 14 Van Persie 36, 84, 90+1
Terry 44 Walcott 55
Mata 80 Santos 48
Arsenal v Chelsea in all competitions
Games played 177
Chelsea wins 54
Arsenal wins 71
Head to head in the League at Arsenal
Games played 75
Chelsea wins 19
Arsenal wins 36
Biggest league win at Arsenal for each team
Arsenal 5-2 Chelsea - 16/04/1979
Arsenal 1-4 Chelsea - 09/04/1960, 12/11/1960 and 10/05/2009
Chelsea won a trophy: 133
Arsenal won a trophy: 2,688
Liverpool won the league: 8,183
Visit tomorrow for the second part of the briefing.
The Blues are six points better off after five games compared to the corresponding games last season.
All four occasions this term in the Premier League we have opened the scoring we have gone on to win the game.
Chelsea have not won an away Premier League game in the Capital for over two years although we have drawn the last four. Our last victory was 3-1 at West Ham on 11 September 2010, eight games ago.
We have won only two of our previous 11 away league games drawing five and losing four.
|Last six results|
|Aug 25||Newcastle (h)||W 2-0|
|Aug 31||Atlético Madrid (Uefa Super Cup)||L 1-4|
|Sep 15||QPR (a)||D 0-0|
|Sep 19||Juventus (Champions League h)||D 2-2|
|Sep 22||Stoke (h)||W 1-0|
|Sep 25||Wolves (League Cup h)||W 6-0|
Premier League scorers
Ivanovic 2, Lampard 2 (2 pens), Torres 2, Cahill 1, Cole 1, Hazard 1 (pen). Total 9.
League games since
An away win: 1
An away draw: 0
An away defeat: 2
|Chelsea's next three games|
|Tue 2 Oct||Nordsjaelland (Champions League) away||7.45pm|
|Sat 6 Oct||Norwich City home||3.00pm|
|Sat 20 Oct||Tottenham Hotspur away||12.45pm|
If selected, Branislav Ivanovic will make his 100th Premier League start for the club.
Frank Lampard is one goal away from equalling our all-time league scorer in top flight matches Bobby Tambling with 129 goals. He is currently level with Roy Bentley with 128.
John Terry needs one goal to reach 50 in all competitions for the Blues.
13 League championships, last in 2004
10 FA Cups, last in 2005
2 League Cups, last in 1993
12 FA Charity/Community Shields (1 shared), last in 2004
1 European Cup Winners' Cup in 1994
1 Fairs Cup in 1970
Arsenal's seven years without silverware is the worst period since the eight-year gap between 1979 (FA Cup) and 1987 (League Cup).
The Gunners are unbeaten in 11 games in all competitions since Wigan won 2-1 at the Emirates on 31 March.
Arsenal have won only six points from the last 15 at home in the Premier League.
Manager Arsène Wenger
Days in charge:5,843
|Arsenal's last 10 year league history|
|Last six results|
|Aug 26||Stoke (a)||D 0-0|
|Sep 2||Liverpool (a)||W 2-0|
|Sep 15||Southampton (h)||W 6-1|
|Sep 18||Montpellier (Champions League a)||W 2-1|
|Sep 23||Manchester City (a)||D 1-1|
|Sep 26||Coventry (League Cup h)||W 6-1|
2012/13 Premier League scorers
Gervinho 2, Podolski 2, own goals 2, Cazorla 1, Koscielny 1, Walcott 1. Total 9.
League games since
A home win: 0
A home draw: 1
A home defeat: 4
MAJOR SUMMER MOVES
Ins Santi Cazorla (Malaga, £15m), Olivier Giroud (Montpellier, £13m), Lukas Podolski (Cologne, £11m).
Outs Manuel Almunia (Watford, free), Nicklas Bendtner (Juventus, loan), Denilson (Sao Paulo, loan), Ryo Miyaichi (Wigan, loan), Robin van Persie (Manchester United, £24m), Alexandre Song (Barcelona, £15m), Carlos Vela (Real Sociedad, undisclosed), Park Chu-Young (Celta Vigo, loan).
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Referee Martin Atkinson's last two Chelsea games were against Tottenham: the 5-1 FA Cup semi-final thrashing at Wembley last season, and the goalless draw at Stamford Bridge in March.
There are no suspensions.
The two-year wait for an away league win in London is over as a high-quality derby is decided by strikes from our Spanish contingent.
Fernando Torres netted for the second time this week to put the Blues into a lead that was levelled up before the interval by Gervinho. There had been fluidity and good open-play passing by both sides in the first half and that continued after the break - but Torres's goal had come from a Mata set-piece and that was the source of the winner, the Chelsea Player of the Year finding the net directly with a free-kick not long after the restart.
Arsenal had further chances, Petr Cech made two good saves, and only wastefulness from substitute Olivier Giroud prevented a stoppage time equaliser, but the home side suffered their first defeat of the season.
If this was the first true test of Chelsea's title credentials this season, the outcome is examination passed.
There was just one change from the last league outing, the home win versus Stoke. John Terry returned in place of Gary Cahill. That meant the exciting trio of Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard lined up behind Fernando Torres.
The Gunners made one change, their skipper Thomas Vermaelen returning in place of Per Mertersacker in central defence. Gervinho played as their central striker.
Plenty of the build-up to this derby centred on what the impact the new signings on both sides would make. Oscar, Hazard and Santi Cazorla were operating in similar areas of the park and it was Arsenal's Spaniard who was first to show, but he fired comfortably over after Gervinho found him at the second time of asking.
That chance came after Ramires had been caught in possession when trying to move the ball on in a crowd, and it was the Brazilian who was wrong-footed by Diaby soon after as the Arsenal man warmed Cech's hands with a shot.
That was the last significant contribution to the afternoon from the big Arsenal midfielder. He was forced off through injury, replaced on 16 minutes by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who played on the right with Aaron Ramsey now dropping deeper.
On 19 minutes, Hazard attacked a pass by Torres and was fouled by Vermaelen. From Mata's free-kick the Blues took the lead. It was a well-placed delivery toward the far post but that does not explain why Laurent Koscielny, who was goal-side of Torres, made no challenge, allowing the Spaniard to volley the ball in around the Frenchman's body.
The Blues were 1-0 up and could have made it 2-0 just three minutes later when Torres again gave Koscielny nightmares but then tumbled as he tried to shoot and missed the ball. Chelsea were sure the Arsenal defender had clipped our centre-forward's heel and it should be a penalty but referee Martin Atkinson disagreed. Initial replays were inconclusive.
Arsenal were winning a fair few set-pieces in our defensive third of the pitch but were not making chances. The first foul deemed worthy of a card was by Ramsey who cut down Oscar in the Chelsea half with 34 minutes played. Oscar followed into the book four minutes later for catching Arteta. It was not his first offence.
In between those yellow cards, Arsenal left-back Kieran Gibbs overcommitted in a challenge and allowed Hazard to sprint away. Leaving his chaser to slide off the pitch with a highly-skilled cross from behind his standing leg, there was unfortunately no one well-placed to attack the Belgian's ball in.
Di Matteo's men were three minutes away from taking a lead into the dressing room at half-time when Gervinho equalised. It took a well-crafted goal to breach our defence, Oxlade-Chamberlain centring low into the area and the Ivorian turning sharply before beating Cech with a shot into the top corner.
Arsenal pressed hard for a short spell after but Chelsea recovered to finish the half the stronger. Oscar had a shot touched wide although no corner was given, and then Torres worked his way back from the byline but could only find the sidenetting with his shot.
Two minutes into the half the referee booked his second Chelsea player, David Luiz judged to have fallen too easily just inside the Arsenal area as Gervinho challenged. Our defender had come up for a corner.
Arsenal had the first shot of the second period with Cazorla, as he had been at the start of the first, off-target, Ashley Cole having cleared a dangerous cross from the edge of our six-yard box.
From the start of this match it looked as if this stage suited Torres and when he attacked Arsenal again, Vermaelen's trip was judged a bookable offence. It looked too far out for a direct attempt by Mata but perhaps considering the inexperience of keeper Vito Mannone, our No. 10 struck the ball with the perfect trajectory to beat the wall and the covering Koscienly, who might have got a slight touch before it finally defeated the Italian stopper at the base of his post. The keeper was possibly distracted by his centre-back's presence.
When Arsenal had the chance to equalise not long after, Cech was this time equal to the challenge, clawing away Podolski's goalbound header after David Luiz and Ivanovic conspired to allow a cross.
That was a good save and it was followed on 72 minutes by an excellent one - Cech readjusting sharply to keep the ball out when a cross from substitute Olivier Giroud deflected off David Luiz.
Arsenal had been enjoying their best period of the game but as the game entered its final quarter of an hour Chelsea put the pressure back on with successive corners and a free-kick on the edge of the area that Mata couldn't quite get over the wall.
There was a chance for substitute Victor Moses to seal it with five minutes left but he couldn't keep his volley down after Torres had flicked on.
Possession was proving hard to retain. Before the end Cazorla completed a hat-trick of misdirected shots and then came the big escape. Ramires lost the ball near halfway and two passes later Giroud was in on goal. The Frenchman did the first part well, moving wide of Cech but with plenty to aim at, he found the sidenetting to the dismay of 55,000 Arsenal fans inside the stadium.
'Champions of Europe, we know what we are,' was the only song that rang around the Emirates as the final whistle blew.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, David Luiz (Cahill 81), Terry (c), Cole; Mikel, Ramires; Mata (Bertrand 84), Oscar (Moses 73), Hazard; Torres.
Unused subs Turnbull, Azpilicueta, Romeu, Lampard.
Scorers Torres 19, Mata 53.
Booked Oscar 39, David Luiz 47, Ramires 90+2.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Mannone; Jenkinson, Koscielny, Vermaelen (c), Gibbs; Diaby (Oxlade-Chamberlain 17), Arteta; Ramsey (Walcott 66), Cazorla, Podolski (Giroud 66); Gervinho.
Unused subs Martinez, Santos, Mertesacker, Djourou.
Scorer Gervinho 42
Booked Ramsey 34, Vermaelen 52.
Referee Martin Atkinson