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Sunday, February 8, 1998 Published at 20:54 GMT

Sport: Football

Arsenal outgun Chelsea
image: [ Ray Parlour and Gianluca Vialli tussle in the London derby ]
Ray Parlour and Gianluca Vialli tussle in the London derby

A top-of-the-table clash and a London derby, this game had the makings of a classic.

By half-time Arsenal were firmly in the driving seat with two strikes from Stephen Hughes.

Forty-five minutes later Arsenal were still 2-0 up. More importantly they were back in the title race, six points behind leaders Manchester United.

Chelsea abandoned their passing game in a passionate encounter that saw them waste the chance of moving to within two points of United.

The game was scrappy with fierce tackles flying as tempers flared and threatened to boil over.

Referee Dermot Gallagher reached for his yellow card seven times as football sometimes took second place to feuding.

The most controversial was Streve Bould's yellow card after he hauled down Gianluca Vialli - just as the Italian hitman appeared to be clear of the Arsenal defence.

Hughes gave the Gunners the perfect opening with a fourth minute strike thanks to atrocious defending.

Frank Leboeuf scuffed a miserable back pass which the lurking Nicolas Anelka pounced on. His shot bounced off Chelsea goalkeeper Ed De Goey.

Laurent Charvet only cleared the ball to the edge of the penalty area where Hughes rifled his shot into the empty net.

Two minutes before the interval Hughes headed his second.

Denis Bergkamp's free kick was nodded back across the six yard box where Hughes bravely dived in to head down and beyond the helpless De Goey.

Chelsea brought on Danny Granville for the second-half but they were unable to make inroads against Arsenal's solid back four.

Chelsea's frustration showed with two second-half bookings when skipper Dennis Wise brought down Anelka from behind and then Roberto Di Matteo was late with a challenge on Hughes.

This was the second of three league and cup matches between the two teams in the space of five weeks. Arsenal have won them both so far.

The last game is the second leg of the Coca Cola Cup semi-final at Stamford Bridge with Arsenal leading 2-1 from the first leg.

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