Jose Mourinho’s side secured a well-deserved 2-0 victory over Arsenal this afternoon, making it two victories in the space of four days and extending our unbeaten Barclays Premier League record against the Gunners to eight matches.
The contest was settled by two second-half goals – scored by Kurt Zouma and Eden Hazard (which was later marked down as a Calum Chambers own-goal by the Premier League's Goal Accreditation Panel) – while the visitors had both Gabriel and Santi Cazorla sent off.
The Blues had come closest to breaking the deadlock in what was a tight first half, with Pedro thwarted by the returning Petr Cech shortly before the break.
Seven minutes into the second half, however, we took the lead when Zouma arrived at the back post to head home a Cesc Fabregas free-kick, and Hazard made sure of the points right at the death with his 50th Chelsea goal, firing home from inside the penalty area.
The big news with regards to team selection was the return of Pedro, who missed the win against Maccabi Tel Aviv in midweek. Oscar also started having been a doubt. Elsewhere, Branislav Ivanovic and Nemanja Matic were brought back into the side after sitting out Wednesday’s game, with the right-back skippering the team in the absence of John Terry, who started on the bench. Diego Costa led the line.
Cech, meanwhile, made his first return to Stamford Bridge since moving across the capital in the summer. Theo Walcott was preferred to Olivier Giroud in attack for the visitors, who were unchanged from their win over Stoke City last weekend.
The two teams went into the game having experienced contrasting fortunes in midweek and it was a frenetic start to the contest.
Diego Costa was brought down by Francis Coquelin as the Blues broke at pace, and at the other end Walcott rounded Asmir Begovic as he raced on to a lofted pass, but a heavy touch saw the ball run out of play.
Cesc Fabregas, playing against his former club, was first to threaten for Chelsea but his strike from outside the box was a comfortable one for Cech, who had been given a great reception by the home supporters.
As is often the case in derby matches, there was certainly no shortage of tough – but fair – tackles flying in early on, with both Oscar and Gary Cahill coming out on top in their respective duels.
The Brazilian, starting in the Premier League for the first time since the opening day, was particularly busy in the midfield area during the opening stages, looking to press and hassle the opposition at every opportunity.
We gradually began to come into the game as an attacking threat with Diego Costa, Fabregas and Eden Hazard linking up well on more than one occasion, only for the final pass to let us down. The striker then tested Cech with a low drive from outside the penalty area.
It took until the 28th minute for Begovic to be called into action, the goalkeeper saving easily from Walcott after the forward had been found by Mesut Ozil, and as the half-hour mark approached there was very little to choose between the teams.
Arsenal captain Cazorla then became the first player to be booked for a cynical foul on his compatriot Pedro, while a minute later the Chelsea winger was unfortunate not to get on the end of a delightful Fabregas pass.
We had a legitimate claim for a penalty waved away moments later when a wonderful Hazard run, which started in our own half, was brought to a halt inside the box when he was bundled over courtesy of a clumsy Gabriel challenge. Luck, however, was on the defender’s side, much to the frustration of the home supporters.
With the attacking players on both sides struggling to find a breakthrough, Zouma took matters into his own hands 12 minutes before half-time, fizzing a fierce drive over the bar from 35 yards, before showcasing his attributes at the other end with an impeccably-timed tackle on Walcott as he looked to race clear. There was no margin for error and the Frenchman executed the challenge perfectly.
As the half drew to a close the contest began to open up, with perhaps the best chance of the game up to that point falling our way following a quick counter attack, Pedro’s stinging effort palmed away by Cech.
With the clock ticking down, an incident then changed the complexion of the game as the visitors were reduced to 10 men.
Gabriel and Diego Costa were involved in a dispute and came together as they remonstrated with each other. With players from both sides separating the pair, and both men receiving yellow cards, the incident appeared to have been diffused, but the Arsenal defender refused to accept what had gone on and then kicked out at Diego Costa, leaving Mike Dean with no option but to send him off.
The visitors emerged for the second half with Calum Chambers having replaced Coquelin in a tactical switch, with Aaron Ramsey slotting into a deeper role alongside Cazorla.
The Blues were quickly on the front foot and Pedro, who had been lively throughout, volleyed inches wide as the ball dropped out of the sky.
Seven minutes into the second half, however, we weren’t to be denied.
After being awarded a free-kick deep inside the Arsenal half, Fabregas’s delivery to the far post was inviting and Zouma, stealing in, glanced his header past Cech into the back of the net.
It was the youngster’s first league goal for the club, and what a time to get it.
Confidence began to soar through the side and our attacking players were causing Arsenal problems every time we went forward. Cech then produced a great stop to deny Hazard, whose strike from the edge of the box appeared to be going in.
Despite the fact they were both a goal and a man down, Arsenal remained a threat in the attacking third. Alexis Sanchez should have done better when he pounced on a loose ball and fired wide, while Walcott then curled one just over the bar from an angle.
At the other end, Hazard produced a brilliant piece of play to get away from two defenders, but his strike across goal rolled agonisingly wide of the far post.
Chances continued to come our way; Diego Costa, on the stretch, was unable to find a full connection for an Oscar cut-back, before Pedro blasted over the bar as the Arsenal defenders backed off.
With 23 minutes left to play Mourinho made his first substitution of the afternoon as Ramires replaced Oscar, who had been one of the stand-out performers.
For the second time in the game we were denied what looked a clear penalty when Diego Costa, cutting in from the left, was hauled down by both Cazorla and Hector Bellerin at the same time. It seemed a strange decision to say the least.
Shortly after, though, Arsenal were reduced to nine men and they could have few complaints as Cazorla received a second yellow card for a poor tackle on Fabregas.
Diego Costa’s afternoon was brought to an end 10 minutes from time when the striker, who had worked tirelessly throughout and been a constant thorn in the Arsenal side, was replaced by Loic Remy.
Unsurprisingly, it was the Blues seeing more of the ball in the closing stages and Hazard struck the wall with a free-kick after being scythed down by Laurent Koscielny on the edge of the box.
The Belgian had been brilliant throughout, and in the 90th minute he made it 2-0, scoring the goal his performance had merited from inside the penalty area via a deflection after Remy and Pedro had been unable to get their respective shots away.
We were able to see out the final few minutes in comfortable fashion.
Arsenal haven't scored a league goal against us since January 2013 and that particular statistic didn't look like chaging this afternoon.
It's now two home wins in succession for the Blues, setting us up nicely for two consecutive away matches, at Walsall on Wednesday in the Capital One Cup and then against Newcastle next Saturday.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Begovic; Ivanovic (c), Zouma, Cahill, Azpilicueta; Matic, Fabregas (Mikel 90); Pedro, Oscar (Ramires 67), Hazard; Diego Costa (Remy 80).
Unused subs: Blackman, Terry, Loftus-Cheek, Falcao.
Scorers Zouma 52, Chambers o.g. 90+1
Booked Diego Costa 45+2, Ivanovic 48
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Cech; Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Cazorla (c); Ramsey, Ozil (Giroud 74), Sanchez (Oxlade-Chamberlain 74); Walcott.
Unused subs: Ospina, Debuchy, Gibbs, Arteta
Booked Chambers 70
Sent off Gabriel 45+3, Cazorla 78
Referee Mike Dean