Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal Match Report – 5th October 2014

Chelsea maintained their unbeaten Premier League record as they won a fiery encounter against Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. A penalty from Eden Hazard and yet another goal from Diego Costa helped the Blues to victory in a match the home side were never in danger of losing.

It was far from the best performance of the season from Chelsea, but they did more than enough to get the job done. They ended Arsenal’s unbeaten start to the season, coped with the surprising physicality of the match and had to do it after Thibaut Courtois was substituted after a clash with Alexis Sanchez.

Jose Mourinho came into this game with an unbeaten record in his 12 meetings with Arsene Wenger. Wenger’s frustration at that record was evident here, as he shoved Mourinho during an altercation after Gary Cahill’s heavy challenge on Sanchez.

The Arsenal players seemingly responded from that point onwards, becoming more physical than they have been in many years. They ultimately paid the price for that, when Laurent Koscielny brought down Eden Hazard in the box during a mazy dribble from the Belgian. Unlike Arsenal and their manager, Hazard kept his calm and opened the scoring with a great penalty. He sent Szczesny the wrong way, giving the keeper the eyes and opening his body up at the last moment.

The Blues went in at half time with the lead, but it wasn’t as comfortable as they may have liked. That was mainly down to the lack of chances in the game. There were only three shots on target in the 90 minutes, all of those falling to Chelsea players. The Blues did press in the second half looking for the second goal to wrap up the points, and as they did Diego Costa became less isolated and grew into the game.

He showed some neat footwork to play in Hazard whilst surrounded by Arsenal players, but the Belgian saw his shot fly over the bar. In the end the second goal came from a Chelsea counter attack. With the Arsenal defence pushed high, the Blues won the ball back in midfield and Fabregas looked up and played a fantastic ball over the top for Diego Costa to run on to. Costa latched on to it, and lifted the ball over the helpless Szczesny in goal for his ninth Premier League goal of the season.

After the game Jose Mourinho praised his team while trying his best to draw a line over the Wenger incident. “It was a difficult game,” noted Mourinho. “They started better than us, but Eden gave us the penalty and the first goal and the game could have finished there if it had been a red card. At the end of day they had more of the ball than us but we had the chances so we scored two goals, we won and I am happy we beat a good team.”

On Wenger, Mourinho said, “For me, it is over. But the technical area is very clear – I have mine, he has his and he cannot come to mine, especially to put pressure on the referee to give a red card to my player. So I just told him ‘leave my technical area and don’t come back please’.”

LCN Man of the Match: Eden Hazard

Chelsea v Arsenal Preview (Premier League) – 5th October 2014

The Premier League’s two unbeaten sides come face to face this weekend as Chelsea host London rivals Arsenal. The Blues are six points ahead of fourth placed Arsenal, and they’ll be looking to extend that lead with another win over Arsene Wenger’s side.

Of course the big talking point for this game will be Cesc Fabregas facing his former club. Fabregas came through the ranks at Arsenal to captain them, and Chelsea fans know all about having a former hero coming back to haunt you after their 1-1 draw at Manchester City when Frank Lampard got the equaliser. This would be the perfect game for Fabregas to grab his first league goal, against an Arsenal side who often collapse in these kinds of games.

Chelsea won this fixture 6-0 last season, scoring early on and going after the Arsenal defence. That result came last term when Chelsea didn’t have a real striker and it’s hard to imagine what a player of the calibre of Diego Costa could do if given the chance against Arsenal. The question is, will he get that chance?

After starting against Sporting Lisbon in midweek he’s a doubt for this game, due to his hamstring troubles. While he’s got four days to recover, he still might not make it. If he does, he could bully the Arsenal defence like Didier Drogba used to do, which is something his likely replacement Loic Remy wouldn’t be capable of. Remy is more pacey, less physical, meaning he’s not going to take on the same kind of battles that Costa does.

The back five basically picks itself these days, with the only change from Tuesday’s game against Lisbon likely to be Cesar Azpilicueta coming in at left back for Filipe Luis. That would make the back four in this one identical to the one that started in the 6-0 win.

In midfield, we could see a more adventurous set up from Mourinho, avoiding the 4-3-3 formation he uses in games to keep it tight. He played 4-2-3-1 against Arsenal at home last season, and we know how that went. Ramires is still out of course, which limits Chelsea’s options in the middle and makes the 4-2-3-1 more likely. Fabregas and Matic will keep their places in the centre of midfield whatever the formation. Oscar has had a couple of impressive performances recently, and he should play in the number 10 role.

On the wings Eden Hazard will start on the left, with Willian likely to take up the spot on the right. Andre Schurrle had an awful time against Sporting, so he’s unlikely to play here. The team seems fairly straightforward, apart from the striker.

A win here would give Chelsea a huge lead over Arsenal, giving them a big early advantage in the title race. With the international break just around the corner, a win here would be a great way to sign off.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-0

Sporting Lisbon 0-1 Chelsea Match Report – 30th September 2014

Chelsea jumped to the top of their Champions League group with a 1-0 win over Sporting Lisbon. A first half goal from Nemanja Matic gave the Blues their first win of the season in Europe, but they missed several chances and had a few let-offs with Sporting having opportunities to level it up.

The game was eerily like the last Champions League game against Schalke, with the Blues taking the lead and then missing some clear cut chances to make things easier for themselves. After that, Sporting pushed for a goal and they came close to getting it. In the end, it finished 1-0 and Chelsea lead by two points from Schalke and Maribor, who shared a 1-1 draw in Germany.

From the off Chelsea dominated the game, with Diego Costa going through one on one with Rui Patricio, and the Sporting doing enough to deny the red-hot striker. That pattern continued, with Andre Schurrle somehow sending Eden Hazard’s pull back wide when he had the goal at his mercy.

The Blues finally took the lead through the unlikeliest of players in defensive midfielder Matic, who had a very good game. Cesc Fabregas swung in the free kick from the left hand side, and Matic rose at the back post to loop a header over Patricio and in to the net. The Blues continued to press, but they went in to the break at 1-0.

They saw more opportunities go begging after the interval, with impressive movement and build up play being wasted by poor finishing. At this level you can’t really get away with that, so they’ll have to improve on that if they are to go far in Europe, and they’ll need to do better in their meeting with Arsenal at the weekend.

Chelsea had more opportunities on goal, with Matic playing a wonderful pass through the Sporting defence for Oscar, but he couldn’t get to the ball in time to apply the much needed finish. Jose Mourinho brought John Obi Mikel on to try and tighten the game up, but it didn’t really work. Filipe Luis and Mohammed Salah both missed good chances, while at the other end shots from Nani and Freddy Montero came close for the hosts.

Thibaut Courtois had some saves to make but he was never really challenged, but the lack of a second goal made this game more of a worry. The missed chances have slightly taken away from the end result, and an away win in Europe really should be celebrated rather than criticised.

The Blues have now gone top of Group G, and with two games against Maribor next up, they should be able to get a good grip on the group now and move closer to a spot in the last 16. The focus for Chelsea now will be on the weekend meeting with Arsenal, as they look to strengthen their position domestically before the next Champions League game in three weeks’ time.

LCN Man of the match: Nemanja Matic