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sabato 29 settembre 2012

Chelsea beats Arsenal: Juan Mata makes the difference

Chelsea consolidated their lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League with a 2-1 win that ended Arsenal’s unbeaten start. Torres fired Chelsea ahead and Juan Mata's free-kick squirmed in to secure three points for the European champions after Gervinho had equalised on the stroke of half-time.

Arsenal made a lively start, as on 11 minutes, Abou Diaby created space for himself some 20 yards out and shot fiercely at Petr Cech. However, the French midfielder got injured and was soon replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Arsenal did not pose enough threat to claw their way back from two crucially loose moments. Indeed, they were flat enough to ensure the home support did not even rouse much sustained hostility for John Terry, who had an untroubled 90 minutes. The pantomime booing petered out once Chelsea took the lead.

Arsenal had been frustrated by their weakness at a set piece to give Manchester City the lead last Sunday. There was not much tangible improvement here. "We gave away two soft set pieces and we were punished," said Arsène Wenger, who was very agitated as his team were outmanoeuvred at both ends of the pitch. "The difference between us and Chelsea in the air was obvious." There may have been improvements this season, but a familar problem came back to haunt them at an untimely moment.

Chelsea took the lead on twenty minutes with a brilliant finish from Fernando Torres. A free-kick from Mata on the right was floated through the Arsenal penalty area towards the far post. Laurent Koscielny was wrestling with Torres, but the Spaniard was still able to hook the ball back into the net. Before Arsenal could regroup, they were almost 2-0 down. Torres robbed Koscielny out on the left and darted into the penalty area. However, as the Vito Mannone came out and he shaped to shoot, the Spaniard tumbled and Arsenal cleared.

Slowly Arsenal found their rhythm again. Gervinho was picked out at the far post and headed back across goal instead of at it. But the Ivorian soon equalised. After patient build-up play from right-back Carl Jenkinson who fed the ball back to Arteta, the Spaniard slipped Oxlade-Chamberlain down the flank. His low centre across the six-yard box was collected by Gervinho with his back to goal, and he turned to blast a shot into the roof of the net. Arsenal started the second half brightly, with Santi Cazorla snatching at an angled drive which flew wide. However, the Gunners were undone again in the 53rd minute.

Once more Mata's curling delivery caused panic in the Arsenal penalty area and a backtracking Koscielny helped the ball on with the slightest of touches into the corner past Mannone's dive. Wenger had seen enough and made a double change after 66 minutes, bringing on Walcott for Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud, who scored his first Arsenal goal in the midweek Capital One Cup win over Coventry City, for Podolski.

Thomas Vermaelen was penalised for fouling Torres and the punishment was complete as Mata's angled free-kick took a slight touch off Koscielny to drift beyond Mannone into the bottom corner. It was the final act and Terry celebrated by advancing towards celebrating Chelsea fans after the final whistle and handing his boots to a youngster in the crowd.

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