In today's other high-profile Premier League matchup, the last two undefeated sides met as London-based rivals Chelsea and Arsenal locked up at Stamford Bridge. It was just a few months ago that the two met at the same stadium, with Chelsea registering a stunning 6-0 victory over a hapless Gunners squad. The game today also marked Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas’ first game against his former team, where he began his career at age 16 and served as captain for three years.
The hostility between the two teams was apparent even before kickoff. The game started 20 minutes late after Arsenal supporters set off several flares outside the stadium, and Chelsea responded in kind by simply not letting any more Arsenal fans into the Bridge. Likewise, the highlight of the first 20 minutes was when Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger confronted Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho over a questionable tackle from Chelsea's Gary Cahill, resulting in a hilarious physical standoff that culminated with Wenger shoving Mourinho:
After a collision with Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez earlier in the game left him dazed at best and more likely concussed, Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois had to be subbed off in the 24th minute for perhaps the best back up in the world, club legend Petr Cech:
Just a few minutes later, an absolutely brilliant run by Chelsea's Eden Hazard saw the speedy midfielder beat three Arsenal defenders, with the third (Laurent Koscielny) simply sticking out a leg and tripping the onrushing attacker. Hazard then stepped up to the spot and coolly buried the penalty to give Chelsea a 1-0 lead:
After a quiet first half hour of the second half that saw the Blues mostly absorb pressure from a pressing Arsenal front line, Chelsea broke through for a second goal on a sensational combination from Fabregas and Premier League leading scorer Diego Costa. A perfectly-weighted lob from Fabregas was settled with incredible composure by Costa, who delicately lofted a chip past Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny. The goal was Costa’s league-leading ninth in his first seven matches, and the assist was Fabregas’ league-leading seventh:
The 2-0 scoreline stood up from there, and although it's early in the season Chelsea are five points clear of second place Manchester City atop the league table. Arsenal are still in good position, sitting in fifth with plenty of matches left to play, but will need to be better in the attack if they want to stay among the top teams.