ARSENAL 1 CHELSEA 2
14.40 A huge test for both teams, and it's Chelsea that have come through with flying colours. Their gameplan nullified Cazorla, and Arsenal couldn't muster the composure or sustained pressure to hit back after poor defending allowed Mata to score what turns out to be the winning goal. Chelsea will be top at the beginning of next week. Steve Bould needs to put in some more hard yards with the Arsenal defence at London Colney. Thanks for your company, I'll talk to you again soon.
90+4 min It's Chelsea with the ball in their opponents box as the clock ticks down. Hazard does tremendously on the left, playing in Moses, who wins a corner for his team.
90+1 min We're into minute one of four that will be added on. Oh dear, a wonderful chance goes begging for Giroud! Lovely series of passes undoes Chelsea through the medal, the French striker is through on goal but heading wide on the left. Tough angle, tough body position to score from, but still disappointing to see him only find the side netting.
89 min Another disappointing moment from Cazorla with the pressure on. Gervinho evades IVanovic on the left and pulls it back for the Spaniard just shy of the penalty spot. He's leaning back and sends the ball well over the bar.
86 min Moses spoons a high ball over from the corner of the area. Difficult chance. This is slipping away from Arsenal like so many once-excellent defences.
85 min Bertrand replaces the impressive Mata for Chelsea.
84 min Cech's crossbar is cracked by a header from an Arsenal free kick. The whistle had gone, in any case, as Gervinho strayed offside.
82 min Luiz, limping a bit, is replaced by Gary Cahill for Chelsea.
81 min Mata aims for the top corner with his free kick. Instead he finds Koscielny's face. He clashed heads with Jenkinson as they blocked the shot in the wall, and needs treatment.
79 min Free kick inside the "D" for Chelsea after Arsenal fail to get close to Mata and Torres' incisive passing. Gibbs tripped Mata.
78 min The Ox sees a cross headed out for a throw by Terry. Here's Juan Mata doing a surprisingly restrained celebration after scoring Chelsea's second:
76 min Wild header over by Moses as Chelsea keep the ball in the air for an age around the Arsenal box. The away side in the ascendancy now.
73 min A Luiz deflection makes a Giroud shot tricky for Cech. He's wrongfooted, but sticks out a hand and turns it round the post. Moses coming on for Oscar before the Arsenal corner.
71 min Cazorla flattering to deceive now. Opens up in front of him as he receives the ball on the right, but he takes it too wide and can only manage a weak shot into Ivanovic. Arsenal beginning to build some sustained pressure, though. Chelsea dangerous on the break. Impossible to call which way the next goal's going to go. Suspect there will be one.
69 min Gibbs having a storming game. Torres looks threatening as he cuts in off the left, but Gibbs keeps his eye on the ball as the stepovers begin and picks his moment brilliantly to stick his foot in and win the ball cleanly.
67 min Walcott and Giroud coming on for Ramsey and Giroud. Sensible subs. Arsenal have a corner. It's poor, and Chelsa look to break again, but Terry's clever pass for Oscar catches the Brazilian unaware and strikes the back of his calves.
63 min Cazorla dinks it into the box. Terry heads clear, and Mata nips in ahead of a dawdling Ramsey to start a Chelsea break, halted by Gibbs.
62 min Ramsey looking like a weak link for Arsenal at the minute. Two promising moves are brought to a halt by misjudged passes from the Welshman. Jenkinson wins a free kick on the far side of the area.
59 min Superb save from Cech, palming away a looping Podolski header that looked like it might sneak over the keeper. Chelsea the better side so far in this half, but both teams are untidy enough to suggest there will be plenty more excitement in this.
56 min The Ox tries to take on Cole on the right. His cross suggests he's got half a mind on winning a corner rather than finding the head of a team-mate. In the end he does neither, with Cole blocking but not sending the ball out of play. He's Gervinho scoring, in better times for Arsenal:
54 min GOAL!! Arsenal 1 Chelsea 2 (Mata)
Free kick is taken by Mata and flashed across goal. Koscielny gets a minor touch on it as it heads towards its final resting place in the bottom corner, but I'd say that was probably going in anyway. That's marginally got to go the way of "poor defending by Arsenal".
53 min Torres bundled over from behind by Vermaelen 30 yards from goal. The Belgian is booked.
50 min Podolski with a theoretically great low pass across the box after he's played in well by Gibbs on the left. Only theoretically great because there were three Chelsea defenders to one Gervinho in the six yard box. Unsurprisingly the Chelsea chaps come out of it best. Ball rebounds to Cazorla, but his snap shot only finds the side netting.
48 min Chelsea corner, semi-cleared. Oscar recovers it on the far side and lays it back to Luiz. He gets into the box and clashes knees with an Arsenal defender, then falls to the ground in a manner befitting the theatre. He's booked for pretending with intent to deceive.
46 min Second half activated. Arsenal get us started.
13.35 An enjoyable half, with the pleasing added dimension at the end of gameplans going out of the window. How English. Before that Chelsea had been managing Arsenal expertly, but hadn't banked on hit-n-miss specialists Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gervinho being simultaneously excellent and scoring an equaliser. Tough one to call, half-time alterations could be crucial. See you in 15.
45+3 min Oscar and Torres combine on the right, with Torres getting past two men in red and firing a low shot wide of the post.
45+1 min Three minutes of added time.
45 min A game? WE HAVE ONE ON OUR HANDS NOW. Another potentially profitable moment for Arsenal wide on the right. Jenkinson with the cross this time, but fails to find Gervinho or Podolski in the middle.
43 min GOAL!! Arsenal 1 Chelsea 1 (Gervinho)
That's a hugely pleasing goal by Arsenal. Seven touches in the move. Cazorla and Arteta exchanging passes on the right before teeing up The Ox on the wing. A couple of disappointing crosses from him so far, but this one's perfect for Gervinho, who takes a touch, spins, then fires high into Cech's net. Smashing finish.
41 min Cazorla briefly in space for a shot just inside the box. Crowded out quickly and it's blocked. At the other end Torres was late with a tackle on Ramsey and the Welshman is now getting his hobble on. No booking for Torres.
39 min Oscar booked now for a nibble on Arteta from behind. Not his first foul on the Spaniard.
38 min Just ludicrous skill from Hazard, who receives a nifty reverse pass from Mata and scampers towards the byline on the right. Just when Gibbs and everyone watching expects him to stand up a cross he stops instantly, comitting the Arsenal defender to a sliding tackle that takes him off the pitch, and delivers the ball with his left. Cleared. Here's Henry Winter's take thus far:
36 min Ramsey booked for a late tackle on Oscar. Some excellent shooting victim facial work from the Brazillian as he fell towards the turf.
35 min Luiz misses a header from the corner, but Ivanovic thumps it away nonetheless. Here's John Terry lifting up Fernando Torres with his famous incredible strength after the latter's goal:
34 min Arsenal take a free kick quickly, and Oscar is caught napping with Gervinho running towards goal from the left. Luiz is there to deal with him, and concedes a Chelsea corner.
33 min No great shakes from Arsenal since the opening goal. Chelsea looking solid, and bossing things in the middle since Diaby was removed.
29 min From the throw Arsenal cross towards the far post. Gervinho's there, unmarked, but it's a tough angle and a poor header. Terry is able to chest it back to Cech from close range.
28 min Arteta pumps an artless free kick towards the "D". Luiz, seemingly fully recovered, heads it out for a throw. Time for today's first pertinent statistical tweet from our friends at Opta:
26 min Luiz struggling with what looks like a strained calf muscle now. Ramsey, incidentally, has gone central since Diaby's injury, with The Ox deployed wide on the right.
23 min Big shout from the home support for a penalty as Cazorla is clattered by Mikel in the area. Chelsea clear, and Torres disposseses Koscielny and is in on goal! Mannone coming out, Torres tries to take it wide, but his boot catches Koscielny's shin as he winds up for the shot! He wants a penalty, it's waved away. Chelsea certainly the less fortunate there, but I'd probably side with Martin Atkinson for both decisions.
20 min GOAL!! Arsenal 0 Chelsea 1 (Torres)
Poor marking from a Chelsea free kick on the right-hand side, but Arsenal aren't punished by the person they should have been. Mata delivers, Luiz is completely free in the middle, but the ball's over him and falls towards Torres and Koscielny on the far post. The Arsenal centre back seems to have the striker well-covered, but Torres flicks his leg around him to hook home past Mannone. Excellent finish.
18 min Gervinho gets a glimpse of a gap between Terry and Cole to shoot from just outside the box, but opts to run into Cole, looking for a free kick. Referee Martin Atkinson is correctly unmoved.
17 min Diaby indeed coming off, hobbling down the tunnel. Oxlade-Chamberlain is on.
16 min Diaby's done for, running gingerly. Looks like The Ox is coming
on. Ian Caldwell exercises his right to state
Without question Wanderers FC. Their 16–0 victory over Farningham in the first round of the 1874-1875 FA Cup will never be forgotten by true football fans.
14 min Chelsea just beginning to realise they're up against a decent team now. Some signs they're being cowed after a good start. Oscar has been bundled off the ball, Torres failed to dispossess Diaby when he should have come out with the ball, and Hazard misjudges a pass, sending it out for a throw.
12 min Diaby and Cazorla combining frutifully in the middle. The former works Cech with a hard, low shot from just outside the box. Cazorla just impeccable so far, and absolute joy to watch, like early-era David Silva at Man City.
10 min Good spell for the home side, Cazorla working hard to help his team regian the ball after Ramsey's through ball to Gervinho was cut out. Lovely footwork from the Spaniard who passes back to Ramsey. He gets his through ball to Gervinho right at the second time of asking, but he's crowded out and returns it to Cazorla, who shoots over.
8 min Chelsea with the best of this so far. Mata tries to pick out Cole arriving in the box from deep with a curling ball from the right-hand side. Out for a goal kick. Nothing yet to dispell the notion that this is going to be a treat.
7 min Doesn't seem like Arsenal's supporters like Ashley Cole much. Poor Ashley. Here's Michael Gow with his favourite ever London team:
Has to be the Invincibles of 2003/04. Sensational football. Beautiful to watch. Although, on the other hand, one of the first football matches I remember watching was Coventry vs Spurs in the 87 FA Cup Final. Spurs were brilliant as they let Cov win, with a Gary Mabbutt own-goal and "plump" striker Keith Houchen getting the winner, totally unmarked in the box to score a sublime diving header.
5 min First spell of possession for Arsenal, begun by Gibbs bringing it out from left back with poise and patience. Terry hoofs a Podolski cross out for a throw, Ramsey shoots from wide on the right soon afterwards. Well over the bar.
3 min Luiz strikes the free kick. Poorly. On target, but tame and bouncing and an easy hold for Mannone.
2 min Excellent run from Hazard, cutting in from the left and beating three Arsenal players who fail to get close to him. Diaby fouls him, Chelsea have a free kick 30 yards out.
1 min We have begun. Poor control from the off from Ramires, who is frightened by Podloski pressure and concedes a throw.
12.40 The teams are in the tunnel. It's 1-0 to Chelsea in the warm-up top stakes. Petx Cech, incidentally, appears to have cut the sleeves off his. A short sleeved zip-up tracksuit top! What on earth is going on?
12.35 Carl Jenkinson's doing some nattering pre-game. I like him. He's speaking honestly and without any shame about that whole 8-2 thing last year. He's also responsible for this, on Arsenal's dedicated bricks thing, which pulls on the expected heartstrings:
12.20 Glenn Hoddle is skirting close to trouble in the build-up on Sky,
according to the excellent
12.10 At least someone will shake John Terry's hand:
12.03 Here are the full teams:
Arsenal: Mannone, Jenkinson, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta,
Diaby, Cazorla, Ramsey, Gervinho, Podolski.
Subs: Martinez, Mertesacker, Djourou, Santos, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Giroud.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Cole Ramires, Mikel, Mata, Oscar, Hazard; Torres.
Subs: Romeu, Lampard, Moses, Turnbull, Cahill, Azpilicueta, Bertrand.
Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire)
11.54 No Olivier Giroud for Arsenal today, here is what looks a lot like their starting eleven:
Mannone, Jenkinson, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Diaby, Cazorla, Ramsey, Gervinho, Podolski.
11.30 Morning liveblog fans.
It's been an odd football season so far, no? What with the sheer weight of Other Sport we've experienced this year there is the unusual situation of football having to carve out a space in our consciousness once again, a sense that it's no longer the only game in town.
The feeling of not-quite-rightness has been aided by the fact that no-one's yet to take the Premier League by a strong breeze, let alone by storm.
Chelsea may be top of the table, but haven't looked particularly imperious in their last two outings. They were run close by Stoke last weekend and held by QPR a week previously.
Arsenal have been lauded for their new found ability to defend and sparkled in attack against Liverpool and Southampton, but began the campaign with unspectacular goalless draws with Stoke and Sunderland and have drawn three out of their five games so far.
Today should prove hugely instructive for both sides. They tore into one another at Stamford Bridge almost a year ago:
...then drew 0-0 at the Emirates. Shan't be showing you any videos of that one.
Does The Season Start Here? I think it might.
Team news and all that jazz to follow, stay tuned.
Here's a lovely preview:
Saturday, September 29
TV: Sky Sports 2, Highlights BBC1 Match of the Day.
Arsenal (Possible, 4-2-3-1): Mannone; Jenkinson, Vermaelen,
Mertesacker, Gibbs; Ramsey, Cazorla; Diaby, Arteta, Podolski; Gervinho.
Out: Chamakh (illness), Fabiansky (shoulder), FrImpong, Wilshere (both match fitness), Rosicky (calf), Szczesny (ankle), Sagna (broken leg).
Test: Vermaelen (illness).
Chelsea (Possible, 4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole;
Lampard, Mikel; Mata, Oscar, Hazard; Torres.
Test: Sturridge (hamstring).
Referee: Martin Atkinson. Matches: 4, R0 Y16.
Arsenal expect to have captain Thomas Vermaelen back from a virus for tomorrow's showdown against Barclays Premier League leaders Chelsea at Emirates Stadium.
First-choice goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny remains sidelined.
Emmanuel Frimpong returned to action from a long-term knee injury for the midweek Capital One Cup win over Coventry, but, along with fellow midfielder Jack Wilshere, will sharpen his fitness in the Under-21s game on Monday.
Czech winger Tomas Rosicky and defender Bacary Sagna are expected to feature within the next fortnight.
John Terry is fit and available for Chelsea.
Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo said he would have no qualms picking Terry while the club captain decides whether to appeal Thursday's guilty verdict in his Football Association race case.
Frank Lampard has shaken off an ankle injury but the game comes too early for Daniel Sturridge (hamstring).
The facts point to a goalless draw, as it ended last season. Arsenal have conceded two goals so far while Chelsea have kept four clean sheets and have yet to concede away.
The fact that Robin van Persie, who scored a hat-trick for Arsenal at Chelsea last October, and Didier Drogba, who managed 13 goals against the Gunners, are no longer at the clubs, leads one to wonder where any goals are going to come from.
Betting: Home 11-10, Away 23-10, Draw 23-10.
Stat of the game: Chelsea have gone 331 minutes without conceding a goal in the Premier League.
John Ley’s prediction: Arsenal 0 Chelsea 0.