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Page last updated at 17:59 GMT, Sunday, 23 March 2008

Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal

By Ian Hughes

Didier Drogba inspired Chelsea to victory over Arsenal
Didier Drogba inspired Chelsea to victory over Arsenal

Didier Drogba's double kept Chelsea's title hopes alive while damaging Arsenal's with a win that saw them leapfrog their rivals to go second.

William Gallas hit the post from five yards in the first half but Bacary Sagna put Arsenal in front with a near-post header on 59 minutes.

Drogba equalised with a low drive after Juliano Belletti's long pass was laid off to him by Frank Lampard.

And on 82 minutes Drogba poked home the winner after a Nicolas Anelka flick-on.

With Manchester United's victory over Liverpool earlier in the day, which put them six points clear at the top of the table, both sides were eager to get more than a point from the match - but were also desperate not to lose.


Chelsea began in more cautious fashion, allowing Arsenal plenty of time on the ball, while laying in wait in their defensive third to snuff out the attacks.

With Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Eboue hugging the touchlines, Arsenal used the width to good effect but without really penetrating.

Dutchman Van Persie sliced one shot high and wide when well placed and drove in a volley that was comfortably saved by Carlo Cudicini.

But while Arsenal were on top with their short passing game in the first 20 minutes, Chelsea's more direct approach dictated the play in the second part of the first half.

A lively Drogba sparked the change and he should have scored when clean though on goal but he miscontrolled the ball.

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Interview: Chelsea boss Avram Grant

As the game opened up, Chelsea scrambled clear after two goalwards toe-pokes from Emmanuel Adebayor and Eboue, and Gallas hit the upright from five yards after sliding in at the back post.

Back came Chelsea and Salomon Kalou seemed set to score but missed his kick in the penalty area before the ball was hacked away and Manuel Almunia just managed to divert Joe Cole's dangerous low cross.

The desire to win the game was obvious from both sides and straight after the interval Matthieu Flamini was prevented from giving Arsenal the advantage when his vicious volley was superbly stopped by Cudicini.

Chelsea continued with their route-one approach and Drogba was through again after a long pass by Claude Makelele but Gallas recovered to do enough to put him off.

And then Arsenal turned defence into attack, literally, as Sagna beat his marker at the near post to head in from a Fabregas corner to score his first goal for the club.

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Interview: Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger

But the Frenchman's delight soon turned sour when he was forced off with an ankle injury - and suddenly Chelsea stepped up through the gears.

After a couple of wasted chances, most notably a scuffed shot from Michael Ballack, another long pass paid dividends as the ball eventually fell to Drogba, who lashed in a low drive from the edge of the box.

The impetus was now all with Chelsea and when substitute Anelka headed on another long ball, Drogba was there to flick the ball beyond Almunia, who could not get a strong enough hand to it.

It proved enough to secure three points for Chelsea and close the gap on United to five points, while inflicting only a second league defeat of the season on Arsenal.

Chelsea: Cudicini, Essien, Carvalho, Terry, Ashley Cole, Ballack (Belletti 70), Makelele (Anelka 70), Lampard, Joe Cole (Obi 88), Drogba, Kalou.
Subs Not Used: Hilario, Alex.

Booked: Joe Cole, Ballack, Drogba.

Goals: Drogba 73, 82.

Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna (Diaby 72), Toure, Gallas, Clichy, Eboue, Fabregas, Flamini (Bendtner 88), Hleb, Adebayor, Van Persie (Walcott 76).
Subs Not Used: Lehmann, Senderos.

Booked: Eboue.

Goals: Sagna 59.

Att: 41,824

Ref: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Chelsea's Didier Drogba 7.09 (on 90 minutes).

  • Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

  • see also
    Title race still alive - Ferguson
    23 Mar 08 |  Premier League
    Man Utd 3-0 Liverpool
    23 Mar 08 |  Premier League
    Sunday's football photos
    23 Mar 08 |  Football
    Premier League as it happened
    23 Mar 08 |  Premier League
    How to watch Match of the Day
    08 Oct 07 |  Match of the Day

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