Arsenal 0 Chelsea 1
A Diego Costa goal was the deciding factor as Chelsea extended their winning streak under Guus Hiddink to seven games and left Arsenal third in the league and without a win against the blues since 2011.
Theo Walcott – given the captain’s armband to honour his tenth year at the club – needed to “get mad” more, Thierry Henry said on Sky Sports before the game.
That’s never been a problem for Diego Costa. The Brazilian’s first game at the Emirates saw him make the decisive impact against Arsenal once more.
Played through by Willian inside the first twenty minutes, he was felled by Mertesacker outside the area with only the keeper in front of him.
Minutes after the resulting red card, he had struck the game’s only goal, and ensured Arsenal’s miserable recent record against Chelsea continued.
Oscar drew the game’s first save, his shot at the near post pushed behind for a corner. It would not until the 87th minute that Arsenal mustered their first and only shot of the game.
Boos rained down on Fabregas, but the Catalan was enjoying his return to his old club, pulling the strings in midfield with Oscar and Willian.
It was the latter that put Costa through one-on-one with his old teammate Cech. The heavy-legged Mertesacker, after an inexplicable glance across to the linesman, lunged across the onrushing Brazilian.
There was minimal contact, but it was enough to send the Brazilian rolling across the turf and see Mertesacker sent off.
Gabriel came on for Giroud, to the shock of the Emirates faithful. Suffering with an ankle injury, the Frenchman’s aerial prowess had been stifled by Zouma.
After 18 minutes, a precise Ivanoic cross from the right wing saw Gabriel pipped to the ball by his old enemy Costa, who slid in to poke it inside the near post.
Within five minutes Arsenal were down both a goal and a player, with their top scorer in the stands.
Arsenal looked meek and sluggish, leaving gaps in the box and space in midfield.
Costa powered into the box and nearly added a second only for Cech to palm his strike wide. The resulting corner saw an Ivanovic header cleared off the line by Monreal.
Walcott, stationed on the left, was caught offside three times when threaded through on goal. He was taken off with 15 minutes to go for Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Fabregas strolled into the area, unchallenged until a Koscielny barge that should have been awarded a penalty.
On for Campbell, Alexis Sanchez immediately added impetus to the attack. A loose ball in the box was begging for a finish, but three men in red failed to take advantage.
Arsenal’s best chance seemed a set piece. Two were fumbled by Courtois, before Cech came up for a wasted third that ensured there would be no fairy-tale ending for the ex-Blue.
Their own titles hopes ended, Chelsea still had enough nous to dent those of their London rivals.