Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea restored order with a battling 2-0 win over nine-man Arsenal at Stamford Bridge.
The champions won at home for the first time in the Barclays Premier League this season as Kurt Zouma headed in and Eden Hazard’s late shot ricocheted in off Calum Chambers.
The Blues, now unbeaten in eight league games with the Gunners, benefited from Arsenal indiscipline as Gabriel was sent off after a series of altercations with Diego Costa and Santi Cazorla followed for two bookable offences.
Chelsea striker Costa might have seen red himself after catching Laurent Koscielny with a flailing arm and chest-butting the Frenchman.
When Gabriel intervened, he became the subject of Costa’s attention and the Gunners defender naively retaliated.
After both men were booked by referee Mike Dean, Gabriel kicked Costa and was shown a straight red card.
Mourinho would argue the Brazilian should have conceded a penalty by then after earlier grappling with Hazard.
It mattered not as Arsene Wenger suffered the familiar feeling of defeat to Mourinho’s Chelsea.
The bitter rivals shook hands in the moments before kick-off in a temporary truce to their feud.
Consecutive home wins and clean sheets, and Chelsea are now unbeaten against Arsenal in eight Premier League matches. #CFCLive
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) September 19, 2015
Wenger recorded a first win over his bitter rival at the 14th attempt in August’s Community Shield, but evaded the Portuguese post-match.
Mourinho had been in position to congratulate his rival and he offered his hand this time and it was accepted.
Both sides had plenty to prove; Chelsea that talk of a crisis was wrong and Arsenal that they can contend for the title.
After five rounds of matches, no team had conceded more than Chelsea’s 12 goals and, fearful of Arsenal’s pace, Mourinho left out captain John Terry again.
The pace was furious, but accuracy was lacking and so were opportunities.
Arsenal would not be cowed by Chelsea and the soft underbelly of recent seasons was not in evidence.
Costa was lively and saw one drive held by Petr Cech, who returned to Stamford Bridge as an Arsenal player following 11 years’ distinguished service as a Blue.
Give Diego Costa credit. He gets away with all this AND finds a way to get Gabriel sent off. https://t.co/BEhAQHW8RR
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) September 19, 2015
Theo Walcott, again chosen to lead the line, saw a tame effort held by Asmir Begovic and next Cech smothered as Pedro tried to control a Cesc Fabregas pass over the top.
Zouma recovered from a slip to block Walcott as he threatened to go through one on one and Aaron Ramsey hesitated when he had a chance to finish an Arsenal counter.
Chelsea’s control on the game grew and Cech punched away a Pedro drive before Costa and Koscielny grappled, with the striker pushing the defender in the face and flinging out his arm.
He went to ground and next barged the Frenchman with his chest on standing up.
Gabriel became involved, needlessly, and saw red.
Zouma headed in Fabregas’ set-piece at the back post to give Chelsea the lead and Hazard stung the hands of Cech soon after.
Alexis Sanchez scuffed a half-chance after Chelsea allowed the ball to bounce in the area.
Walcott fired over and Hazard shot wide across goal when Chelsea responded.
Costa wanted a spot-kick for tussle with Hector Bellerin before Arsenal’s numerical disadvantage was doubled when Cazorla received a second yellow card for tripping Fabregas.
Cech could do nothing about Hazard’s shot, which deflected wickedly off Chambers for Chelsea’s second.
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