MX23RW : Friday, April 16 02:10:15| >> :120:14070:14070:
Jan 20, 2013 at 1.30pm UK at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea
2-1
Arsenal
Lampard (16' pen.), Mata (6')
FT(HT: 2-0)
Walcott (58')

Live Commentary: Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal - as it happened

Sports Mole brings you live coverage of the London derby between Chelsea and Arsenal.
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Arsenal travelled to Stamford Bridge this afternoon looking to capitalise on Chelsea's recent poor form at home.

They couldn't do this, however, as Chelsea ran out 2-1 winners courtesy of first half goals from Juan Mata and Frank Lampard.

Arsenal got a goal back in the second half through Theo Walcott, but Rafael Benitez's men managed to hold on to claim a rare league win at Stamford Bridge.

You can read how events unfolded with Sports Mole's minute-by-minute coverage below.


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Good afternoon! Thank you for joining Sports Mole for today's massive match between Chelsea and Arsenal!

Matches between the big sides also garner huge interest, and this one is no different, especially considering the continued pressure on both managers.

For Chelsea, Benitez was criticised as soon as he took the job, and while there have been some good results along the way, the 8-0 thrashing of Aston Villa springs to mind, there have been some bad ones too. His home record isn't good enough, and he has made the worst start over 16 games to any manager in the Abramovich era.

For Arsenal, it seems almost impossible to imagine them with someone other than Arsene Wenger at the helm, but the discontent at his management of the club has been steadily growing. The refusal to spend big money (although rumours of a potential bid for Edinson Cavani may appease these criticism) and failure to win a trophy since 2005 has raised question over his future at the Gunners.

Still, it shouldn't be forgotten how good these managers actually are. Benitez has won the league in Spain with Valencia, breaking Real Madrid and Barcelona's duopoly in the process, and has also won the Champions League and FA Cup with a distinctly average Liverpool side.

Wenger, meanwhile, guided Arsenal to an unbeaten league season - the first for over 100 years - back in 2004, crafting one of the best teams in Premier League history in the processs.

We can't keep focusing on past achievements, however, and today will be very much looking at the here and now for both sides.

Any hopes Chelsea had of launching a late bid for the title seem to have vanished after they squandered a two-goal lead against Southampton during the week, while Arsenal are more embroiled in a battle for fourth place than a title challenge.

Chelsea could certainly be dragged into that battle for fourth place, as a win for Arsenal today would move them to within five points of the Blues with a game in hand.

Right, I think it's about time to bring you some team news!

The bigs news comes from the Chelsea camp as Fernando Torres is preferred up front to Demba Ba, while Frank Lampard also starts. Arsenal are unchanged.

ARSENAL XI: Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Coquelin, Wilshere, Diaby, Cazorla; Walcott, Giroud

CHELSEA XI: Cech; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Cole; Ramires, Lampard, Oscar, Mata, Hazard; Torres

Interesting that Ba has been dropped for this one. Benitez is notorious for his rotation policy, but it is strange to replace an in-form striker like Ba for an out-of-form one like Torres in such a big game.

Looking at the Arsenal line up, Giroud's inclusion looks like Arsenal are going to set up with Walcott playing just off the big striker, looking to pick up any knock downs or flick ons. In my view Giroud main strength is his aerial ability and it will be interesting to see how he gets on against the likes of Ivanovic in the air today.

The real dangermen on show today will be Chelsea attacking midfield trio, though. When on form, Hazard, Mata and Oscar can be devastating and they could hold the key to a win for Chelsea this afternoon.

The Gunners will go into this one in a confident mood, however. They have a decent record on the road so far this season - the fifth best in the league - while Chelsea only have the eighth best home record.

They will also be bouyed by the fact that Southampton, Swansea and QPR have all come to Stamford Bridge and left with at least a draw so far this year. If they can do it, why can't Arsenal?

Both clubs have seen big players agree new contracts this week. Arsenal have finally tied down Walcott to a three-and-a-half year deal, while Chelsea have reportedly agreed a one-year extension to Ashley Cole's contract. Frank Lampard next?

A win for Chelsea would put them five points clear of Tottenham in the league, which would be a nice little cushion for the Blues. They need to get into the Champions League this season to make it any kind of success.

For Arsenal, they will be looking to Jack Wilshere to provide the heartbeat of their side again today. The midfielder has been impressive for the Gunners recently and is a real terrier in the middle of the park. It won't be easy against Chelsea's midfield, but a good performance from Wilshere could very well make it a good performance by Arsenal.

Looking at the midfielders on show, however, I can't see too many defensive problems for any of the full-backs. Mata and Hazard may try and go down the wing now and again, but they prefer cutting inside, while Walcott - the only other likely candidate to play on the wing for either side - will probably be in the middle.

You can find full team news for this match here.

The snow is coming down at Stamford Bridge but don't worry, there is no chance of this one being called off today! I can't say the same for the later match between Tottenham and Manchester United, which is under threat from the weather, although I still expect it to go ahead.

Wenger has called for more aggression from his side, something not really associated with Arsenal teams of late. This Chelsea side aren't the most physical, so they shouldn't be bullied out of this one.

Ten minutes until kickoff, that means it's prediction time! I can see this one being an entertaining, open match with quite a few goals. I'm going for a 3-2 win for Chelsea!

When the two sides met earlier this season it was Chelsea who came out on top, beating Arsenal 2-1 at the Emirates with Torres and Mata getting the goals for the Blues.

Perhaps that is part of the thinking behind the inclusion of Torres today? Benitez explains is rather more simply: "Torres is a good player, we want to score goals and hopefully Torres can do that."

Benitez also strings out a familiar party line when pressed about whether he thought about including John Terry: "I have faith in my team to go out and get a result."

The teams are on their way out, Torres complete with a new, shaven haircut. He will need to be on form today if Chelsea want to come away with a positive result.

Benitez hasn't exactly endeared himself to the already-sceptical Chelsea fans so far, but a win today would do him the world of good.

Chelsea get us underway at the Bridge!

They immediately go on the attack but are eventually crowded out. The ball comes back towards the Arsenal box and Lampard has the first shot of the day, which goes high and wide. Good start from the hosts.

Torres skips past Mertesacker with ease, and the German brings him down. Looked like Torres didn't need to go down, but it was certainly a foul.

Vermaelen puts in a strong challenge down the left flank as Chelsea come forward again. Arsenal are being forced to defend a lot in these early stages.

CHANCE! It's Arsenal who get the first opening! Walcott slips a perfectly-timed pass to Giroud, but the striker drags his shot wide! Really should've done better there.

GOAL! Chelsea 1-0 Arsenal (Juan Mata)

Chelsea go straight up the other end and score! A cross-field ball finds Mata onside, and he takes a touch before firing it into the roof of the net! Wenger is furious that a foul wasn't given on Coquelin in the build-up, but the ref ignored it and the Blues went on to score!

SHOT! Arsenal have made a good response to going behind, getting hold of the ball and knocking it about nicely. Cazorla eventually gets it and fires a shot in from about 25 yards out which Cech scrambles across to push wide.

CHANCE! Hazard races past the Arsenal defence and into the box with some lovely footwork before looking to beat Szczesny at the near post instead of crossing it. The Arsenal keeper pushes it out for a corner and Torres isn't happy that Hazard didn't look to find him!

Torres does get the ball this time, making his way down the left, but he puts too much on his cross and it goes out for an Arsenal goalkick.

SHOT! Mata feeds it to Hazard, who then backheels it to Azpilicueta, who sees his cross blocked. The ball only falls as far as Oscar, however, who tries a volley from the edge of the box but it goes over.

PENALTY TO CHELSEA!

GOAL! Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal (Frank Lampard)

Mata looks set to shoot from the edge of the box but instead slips Ramires in inside the box. The Brazilian is in acres of space until Szczesny rushes out to meet him. Ramires looks to go past the keeper, who brings him down leaving the ref no choice but to award the penalty. Szczesny is perhaps lucky only to get a yellow, but Arsenal are punished by Frank Lampard, who is typically unerring from the spot.

Lampard pings a ball towards Cole down the left, but the former Arsenal man just can't keep the ball in play. Chelsea have resumed control of this one following that second goal.

SHOT! Oh Hazard probably should've done better there! He is found with a long ball into the box before cutting back to make space to shoot. He has two teammates waiting for a pass, but goes for the shot and doesn't really get hold of it.

CHANCE! Arsenal have another corner and it goes straight to Cech for the third time so far today. He starts a Chelsea counter attack which ends up with Mata being denied by Szczesny.

The maestro that is Juan Mata is pulling all of the strings in this one. The Arsenal midfield just can't pick him up and Chelsea are beginning to dominate.

Half chance for Cole as he is found inside the box. His header is poor, however, and goes nowhere near the goal, allowing Arsenal to clear. He would be the most unpopular scorer today!

Oscar twists and turns before finding Cole with a delightful backheel, but the full-back's cross is cleared away by Mertesacker.

Walcott is being forced to put in a defensive shift today, not what he would've had in mind when he signed his new contract I'm sure!

CHANCE! Wilshere lifts a beautiful pass through to Giroud, who takes it down well before lifting it over Ivanovic. Cahill is back in time to help, however, and Chelsea crowd the Arsenal man out.

Nice football from Arsenal, who are starting to find their feet in this one. Giroud turns the ball round the corner to find Wilshere, who in turn slips Walcott through, but the England international is just offside.

CHANCE! Arsenal give the ball away and Chelsea work the ball to Ramires, who bursts pass Gibbs too easily, but his shot goes high over the bar from a good position.

Sagna has his toe trodden on and eventually goes down before the ref blows for a foul. He has not looked comfortable so far today.

Chelsea break away from another Arsenal corner, but their attack comes to nothing and the Gunners respond with one of their own. Walcott sends a cross in towards Giroud, but it is easy for the defence to clear.

Chelsea aren't doing much better from corners, it must be said! The latest one fails to beat the first man and Arsenal clear.

The Blues now have a free kick in a good position following a foul by Wilshere, who is looking increasingly frustrated.

CHANCE! The ball comes in and Cahill nods it down to Torres. It sits up nicely for him, but the Spaniard rushes his shot and skews it high and wide when he should have done better.

We will have one minute of added time.

HALF TIME: Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal

Well, well, well, not a good half for Arsenal by any stretch of the imagination! Their best chance came just before Chelsea's first goal and, had Giroud scored that, we may have a completely different game on our hands. He didn't though, allowing Chelsea to take full advantage and they are now in control of this one.

Mata is running the game at the moment, and Wenger will need to do something about that if he wants to replicate Southampton's comeback from midweek.

Chelsea, for their part, are playing some very good football. They are being allowed to do so by Arsenal, who are not marking tightly enough, but it still takes a good side to take advantage.

It has been their midfield who are most dangerous, however. Torres has been a bit of a non-entity so far as Mata, Hazard and Ramires have looked like Chelsea's main protagonists.

The stats really outline Chelsea dominance in that first half. They have had 65% possession and eight shots compared to Arsenal's two.

The Blues' defence has had the better of Arsenal's attack too. Cahill and Ivanovic have held the offside line very well, and only Giroud's early chance has seen the Gunners get behind the back four. It is a risky strategy to play with Walcott's pace, but is working well at the moment.

The teams are back out, and Arsenal will be looking for an early goal. Southampton came back from two goals down at the halfway stage, so Arsenal will believe that they can too.

The Gunners get us back underway.

CHANCE! It's been a bright start to the half from the visitors, and they probably should be back in this one. A ball into the box is only half cleared by Chelsea, and the ball falls to Mertesacker on the edge of the box. The German fires towards goal, but his effort is straight at Cech.

CHANCE! Another chance for Arsenal as Walcott finally beats the offside trap. He takes a touch before firing towards goal, but his shot is also straight at Cech.

Arsenal are really on top here at the moment. If they can grab a goal soon then they would fancy their chances of getting something from this game.

Giroud goes down after a knee in the back from Ramires. The striker is down for a while and forces play to stop before the magic sponge comes out and sorts the problem out.

Chelsea have just taken the sting out of this one in the last few minutes, clever play.

CHANCE! That's a real chance for someone of Giroud's quality in the air! Gibbs clips the ball in to the striker, who rises above Ivanovic but can't get enough on his header as it rolls into the arms of Cech.

GOAL! Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal (Theo Walcott)

Big goal for Arsenal! Cazorla slips a perfectly weighted ball through to Walcott, his first meaningful pass of the day, and the England international slots it past Cech to put the Gunners right back in this one. Surely Chelsea won't blow another two-goal lead at home?

ARSENAL SUB: In the aftermath of that one Coquelin is replaced by Ramsey, while Walcott is also hurt but looks like he'll be able to continue.

CHANCE! Walcott works his way inside and finds space to shoot on his left foot, but this time he can't finish it as he drags his shot wide.

Arsenal are really building some momentum at the moment. I'd be surprised if there wasn't another goal in this one, and at the moment the visitors look the most likely to get it.

Free kick in a very good position for Arsenal as Walcott is clipped by Cole after a good move from the Gunners. Mata is given a yellow card for kicking the ball away after the whistle.

Cazorla's effort is blocked by the wall, however, and Arsenal win a corner.

BREAKING NEWS: The match between Tottenham and Manchester United is ON! It has just passed a late pitch inspection.

CHANCE! Torres comes out of a battle with Mertesacker with the ball before showing tremendous pace to beat Vermaelen. His final touch is too heavy, however, allowing Szczesny to collect the ball. Probably the perfect example of the Torres of old and the current Torres there, that had elements of both.

Torres races away from Vermaelen again, but once again the final ball is not good enough as he fails to find Hazard in the box.

CHELSEA SUB: Defensive sub from Benitez as Ryan Bertrand replaces Oscar.

SHOT! Another corner comes to nothing, this time for Chelsea, but the clearance only goes as far as Ramires, who hammers it back in from about 25 yards out. Szczesny gets down well to push it away, however.

ARSENAL SUB: Arsene Wenger responds to that Chelsea sub with one of his own, bringing on Arshavin for Diaby.

SHOT! Mata and Ramires ambush Wilshere in midfield and win the ball back. The Spaniard then finds his fellow countryman Torres, who cuts in side and shoots, but it's comfortable for Szczesny.

Ramires robs Wilshere again, who goes down claiming an arm to the face. The ref allows play to go on and Ramires attacks the two Arsenal defenders left at the back. He opts not to give it to Torres, instead trying to take on Vermaelen who times his challenge to perfection and wins the ball back for his side.

CHELSEA SUB: The Chelsea fans are happy with this change as Ba replaces Torres.

Arshavin has a chance to attack Azpilicueta, but in his effort to do so results in a poor touch and a goal kick to Chelsea.

OFF THE LINE! Vermaelen has kept his side in this one! Ba breaks the offside trap and is clean through on goal. He rounds Szczesny and takes his time before picking his spot, but Vermaelen gets back brilliantly to clear it off the line. Great play by the defender, but Ba really should've scored.

That clearance has given the visitors a renewed impetus. It would've surely been game over if that one had gone in but now they are still very much in this one.

YELLOW CARD! A deflection goes the way of Arsenal and Sagna looks to break away but he is cynically brought down by Cole right on the edge of the box and the England man is given a yellow card.

Vermaelen lines up the free kick but can't get enough bend on it as it flies past the post.

CHELSEA SUB: Marin comes on for Hazard as Chelsea look to close this one out.

PENALTY SHOUT! Big appeal for a penalty as Bertrand picks up a loose ball and fires it goalwards. Sagna gets the block in, and replays suggest that it his the Arsenal man on the shoulder.

We will have FIVE minutes of added time! Arsenal need a goal and they've been given plenty of time to get it!

Ba produces a terrific touch to bring the ball under his control, before allowing Marin to take it on. He heads straight for the corner and wins his side a throw in.

CHANCE! Sagna finds Giroud in the box, but the striker's pullback finds no-one in the box. Amazing considering they need a goal, why was no-one there to gamble on that one?!

CHANCE! That is world-class defending from Cahill. Sagna lifts the ball into the box and it's helped on by Giroud towards Walcott, who only has Cech to beat. Cahill hooks his leg round to take it off Walcott's toe just in time, great tackle.

CHANCE! Another chance for Arsenal in the closing stages as Giroud rises highest in the box. His header just loops onto the top of the net, however, and this one could be over now.

FULL TIME: Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal

Chelsea just hold on to claim a big three points. Considering their recent home form, those are valuable points but once again they made it harder than it should've been with that second half performance.

Like their last outing against Southampton, the Blues looked in control at the halfway stage but almost let in slip in the second period. Unlike against Southampton, however, they managed to hold on to their lead today.

Arsenal will be happy with their second half performance, but it was their first half display that lost them this game. They fall further behind Chelsea, and could be as many as nine points behind Tottenham in fourth depending on the result in today's later game.

Right, that's it from me today! Thank you for joining Sports Mole for another thoroughly entertaining London derby, and be sure to stick with us for the match analysis, which should be on sit within half an hour. If you're still keen for more live commentary, you can also follow Liam Apicella's coverage of Spurs vs Manchester United here. Goodbye!

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Rickie Lambert celebrates his goal with Jack Cork against Chelsea on January 16, 2013
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