The Blues traveled to Emirates Stadium on Sunday to face Arsene Wenger’s Gunners who currently sit in third place in the Premier League.
Conversely, the Blues sit in 14th in the league and were looking to stay undefeated under Guus Hiddink.
Though the positions in the table can dictate the outcome of the match, this was not the case on Sunday, especially in the first half.
The Blues started the game with a flurry of chances, possessing and creating quality opportunities.
The match was broken open in the 17th minute when Per Mertesacker brought down Diego Costa as the last man in Arsenal’s defense. The German could make no protests as Mark Clattenburg reached for his red card.
Wenger responded by pulling off Giroud, in favor of Gabriel, which looked to be a silly decision as the Frenchman was Arsenal’s best chance of holding the ball up. Perhaps Joel Campbell would have been the smarter casualty, but it wouldn’t matter for Chelsea.
The Blues found the breakthrough just a few minutes later through the biggest thorn in Arsene Wenger’s side, Diego Costa.
A brilliant cross from Ivanovic was turned in by the Spaniard in the 23rd minute and the Blues were off to the races. They continued to dominate proceedings, with Arsenal having a few solid opportunities of their own.
The Blues entered the half up 1-0.
The second half was similar to the first as Arsenal had several chances to equalize, but Chelsea’s defense stood tall.
The West Londoners should have doubled their advantage about halfway through the second half, as Cesc Fabregas was denied a clear penalty by referee Mark Clattenburg. It boggles the mind how it wasn’t given as Koscelny didn’t play the ball and completely inhibited Fabregas’s movement. It was a clearing out of the highest degree that went unpunished.
The incident became even more head-scratching when Matic was yellow-carded for a similar challenge on Alexis Sanchez. It showed that Clattenburg recognized the same tackle was worthy of a caution, but when in the box, play was allowed to proceed.
However, Chelsea would grind out a result nonetheless and down Arsenal for the second time this season. Hazard even made a return to action and looked his lively self.
It’s interesting to mention that the last time Arsenal scored against Chelsea in a Premier League match was in 2013.
Diego Costa was brilliant for the Blues and in my opinion, man of the match. He made a brilliant run to get Mertesacker sent off coupled with the game’s only goal.
Fabregas was also fantastic and is looking closer and closer to his best. Oscar played admirably and seems to be finding his form under Hiddink.
Overall, a good win for the Blues, taking them within 4 points of the top ten, keeping them above West Brom in 13th on goal differential.
The Blues will travel to MK Dons in their next match in the FA Cup next Sunday. This tournament represents Chelsea’s best chance at silverware this campaign and Hiddink will expect a dominant victory from the Blues next weekend.