Jan 20 2013 By Yann Tear
Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal
CHELSEA survived a testing second half fightback from Arsenal to claim the double over their north London rivals.
But for a while, it looked as if the Blues might be in for a repeat of the midweek surrender of a two goal half-time lead against Southampton.
Once again a dynamic first 45 minutes seemed to have put the game to bed, but the visitors were in charge after the break and pinned the Blues back for worryingly long spells. In the end, it needed some stout defending to secure the points.
The first half performance from the Blues was a revelation, as they rediscovered all the zest and motivation that had gone missing in recent home games..
They needed only six minutes to get their noses in front through Juan Mata – albeit controversially, as Ramires might have been pulled up for a foul on Francis Coquelin in winning possession in the build-up.
Frank Lampard's 16th minute penalty after Wojciech Szczesny had brought down Ramires, increased the Blues' stranglehold on proceedings.
Last year, the Gunners shocked the Blues at the Bridge in a 5-3 win, but that was with Robin Van Persie in the ranks. This time, they did not have the means to mount such a dangerous comeback, although they gave it a go.
Arsenal might have taken an early lead, but Olivier Giroud is no Van Persie, at least not yet, and he fired a left foot shot wide in the game's first real attack after Theo Walcott had given him a clear target. After that, Mata pulled most of the strings before the break.
The Spaniard can also chip in with goals and he was left in acres of space by a long ball over the top from Cesar Azpilicueta, which gave him the time to place a perfect shot beyond Szczesny..It was the 14th goal of a superb campaign for the midfielder.
Mata was then involved in the second goal, slipping a smart ball through to Ramires, who drew a foul from the Arsenal keeper – the stopper no doubt relived that ref Martin Atkinson waved a yellow card in his direction and not a red.
Ramires deserves credit for having won the ball in the first place with a crunching tackle on Abou Diaby - one of many he executed in a tireless performance. Lampard's spot kick took his tally to 195 for the club – and nine for the season.
The game looked over, but the second half was a totally different story, with Jack Wilshere taking over as the game's chief playmaker.
Both Per Mertesacker and Walcott fired in shots at Petr Cech, and on 58 minutes, Walcott raced through to calmly tuck away a great pass slipped in by Santi Cazorla.
Demba Ba came on for Fernando Torres and almost finished the contest when he raced past Arsenal's keeper, only for Thomas Vermaelen to block his angled shot on the line.
But generally, the one-way traffic of the first half was repeated – this time with Arsenal in the ascendancy. A flurry of late corners raised the anxiety levels, but the Blues held on for their first home win of 2013.
Line up: Cech; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Ivanovic, Cole; Ramires, Lampard; Oscar (Bertrand 72), Mata, Hazard (Marin 88); Torres (Ba 81). Subs not used: Turnbull, Ferreira, Terry, Ake. Attendance: 41,784