Chelsea 2 Arsenal 1

Arsenal lost against Chelsea for the second time in the Premiership. Juan Mata gave the home side the lead after six minutes, and ten minutes later the Gunners found themselves 2-0 down. Frank Lampard netted from the penalty spot after Wojciech Szczesny was adjudged to have brought down Ramires. Mercifully Szczesny received only a yellow card. Theo Walcott gave Arsenal a lifeline after 58 minutes with his ninth Premiership goal as the Gunners turned on a performance that was unrecognisable from the opening 45 minutes. But despite a second half rally, the Gunners just couldn’t find what would have been a deserved leveller.

Having won so handsomely in last seasons’s 5-3 win, Arsenal arrived in west London, knowing that despite the Blues’ managerial issues, a tough game still awaited. The Gunners however also arrived without Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade – Chamberlain, who were both ruled out due to illness.

Olivier Giroud was at the apex of a three pronged attack, with Walcott and Santi Cazolra out wide. The France striker had the Gunners’ first sighter on goal after only five minutes. Walcott fed the ball perfectly into the path of Giroud, and with only Petr Cech in front, he contrived to hit his low shot the wrong sight of the Chelsea upright. It was to prove to be a costly miss.

A minute later, and as he won the ball, Ramires clearly stamped on Francis Coquelin’s foot. No foul was the verdict of referee Mike Atkinson, as Gary Cahill swept forward and found Mata. The Spain midfielder hit past Szczesny, and the Arsenal mood began to resemble that of the early stages of the Mancsheter City game at the Emirates last weekend.

Coquelin was proving to be the best Arsenal player of the half, yet his midfield partner Abou Diaby was having a half to fogrget. He seemed slower and off the pace than he had been in the FA Cup 3rd round replay win over Swansea, and Chelsea and Ramires in particular sensed it.

Diaby seemed at unease with Bacary Sagna, but when caught in possession by Ramires, was left standing. Faced with no alternative, Szczesny’s attempt to thwart the Brazilian was deemed a penalty, that Lampard slotted away to the Pole’s left. Szczesny was shown a yellow card for his troubles .

The Gunners did attempt to reply, and Santi Cazolra had a shot that panicked Cech into conceding a corner, while Eden Hazard caused the same worry for Szczesny. Giroud was getting further isolated, but when he juggled the ball in Cech’s area, he found himself outmuscled as he was about to let fly from Jack Wilshere’s pass.

The Gunners had to find a response, and their early arrival for the start of the second half suggested that they were eager to make amends from that dismal opening 45 minutes. And their football backed that up too.

From Wilshere’s free kick, the ball arrived at the feet of Per Mertersacker, but with little time to think, the German hit the ball but without sufficient power or direction to beat Cech.

Still it represented the Arsenal intent. Walcott had endured a frustrating first half, being constantly ruled offside, even if some of these decisions were questionable. Five minutes after the break, the Gunners’14 latched onto Wilshere’s pass, staying onside, but only finding Cech with the shot.

Kieran Gibbs took to marauding away on the left, and should have created the move that got the Gunners level with a precise cross, perfectly placed onto the head of Giroud. The France striker will not have an easier chance to level at this level, but when power was needed, his header fell woefully short and Cech gathered.

A minute later, and Arsenal halved the defective. Cazorla placed a ball clear of the Chelsea defence and for Walcott to run onto. His pace worked an opening that he buried over the diving Cech. 2-1 and with Arsenal now in the ascendancy, as Stamford Bridge resonated with further worry. Coquelin who had enjoyed an indomitable performance was showing why he has a strong case and a strong game to start more often.

On the hour mark however, Walcott should have grabbed the leveller. Cazorla and Wilshere worked the ball to the striker, who raced away only to hit a tame shot to the frustration of Cazorla in particular who was expecting the ball to be played square to him.

Chelsea realised that they were not home yet and started to threaten, but Torres was denied by Szczesny. When the Spain striker’s replacement Demba Ba rounded Szczesny, Thomas Vermalen was there to block on the line, after 80 minutes. Ramires had earleir seen Szczesny pull off a fine save, and Vermalen had a free kick that got through the Blues wall, but just wide of the target.

Giroud had one final chance to earn his side a point, but hit wide after a fast counter attack. The Arsenal supporters would have wondered where that second half performance had been, and why does there have to be adversity for their side to get going.

If Arsenal can remain as focused and determined as they did in the second half at Stamford Bridge, then with successive home Premiership games against West Ham, Liverpool, Stoke and Aston Villa up next, their season can still bring it’s reward.