Chelsea 2 -1 Arsenal

Scorers: Sagna(59'), Drogba(73', 82')

Starting Eleven:
Essien, Carvalho, Terry, A.Cole
Ballack, Makalele, Lampard
J.Cole, Drogba, Kalou
subs: Hilario, Anelka, Mikel, Belleti, Alex

Arsenal were gunned down at the Bridge yesterday. The first time I saw Essien was playing right-back today I felt something wrong but was happy that Essien was playing regardless of the position. If Chelsea had lost this one, Grant would have been under heavy fire, but the gamble paid off. Paid-off in the sense Arsenal didn't score through that hole in the defense. Grant got the substitutions right in a crucial time for the first time and the rest is history.

Chelsea started the match well. A Ballack freekick from the edge of the area troubled Almunia. Van Persie had one or two shots on and off target but failed to do any significant damage. Arsenal found Chelsea's defense too strong to play the short passing game effectively. A.Cole and Carvalho won most of the tackles, and Carvalho was covering up for the out of position Essien as well sometimes.

The first major chance for us came when Terry's acrobatic clearance fell into the path of Drogba whose efforts to control the ball was in vain and the ball rolled to Almunia after hitting Drogba's knee. Gunners got their first chance from a corner in 38 minutes, another set-piece not defended well. But the threat subsided when Gallas was flagged off-side. The half ended with Kalou missing from close range following a free-kick which was headed goalwards by Terry and then Ballack's shot being stopped by Almunia. First half laurels were divided, the larger share belonging to Chelsea.

After the restart, Drogba and Adebayor got half chances at opposite ends but fialed to capitalize. On 58 minutes, Arsenal won their first corner of the second half and from it took the lead. Sagna darted in front of Kalou to head into the gaol, Lampard was ball watching and with no-one covering first post, another typical example of poor set-piece defending. I'm afraid Chelsea are exhibiting too many such examples these days. Ashely Cole got a free header at the other end within 2 minutes but failed to equalize.

Bacary Sagna, the unlikely goalscorer, twisted his ankle and was later replaced by Diaby. Chelsea switched to a 4-4-2 from a 4-3-3 after Makalele and Ballack were replaced by Anelka and Belletti. Both men going out were visibly unhappy, especially Ballack. A minute later with 71 on the clock came the equaliser. Lampard surged into the area but as the ball broke of a defender, Drogba slammed it in first time from 15 yards, off came the shirt, and out came the card. But who cares!

Drogba netted in his second from a quickly taken freekick, headed towards him by Anelka. Almunia got his hand to the shot but could not keep it out. Almunia dived full stretch minutes later to deny Drogba a hatrick. But, the job was done. The Blue flag was flying high at Stamford Bridge. And the main title challengers have been decided. Sir Alex would certainly have liked Arsenal chasing them.

Everyone played their part in the game. Terry was solid in the defense, and so was Ashley Cole. Makalele was brilliant, little twists and turns that left opponents stranded and wrong-footed. Essien seems to be slowly coming back to his best. Subs Anelka and Belleti played major parts in Chelsea scoring. Kalou played like Kalou on the left and Joe played like Joe on the right, I guess you know what that means. Thank you Avram, for you lived upto our expectations this time. But do some work on defending set-pieces.

And a word about the match at Old Trafford. Mascherano was foolish in arguing with the referee but the card was ridiculous. Steve Bennett just can't kill important matches like that, and I'm sure this would happen only in Old Trafford. Atleast its a far better decision than Mikel getting a direct red for winning a tackle. Referees like Bennett should earn respect, and flashing stupid yellow card like this would do little good.