Drogba Shins It For Chelsea  (Sky Sports)

Chelsea 1 Arsenal 0

Didier DrogbaA moment of utter fortune was enough to hand Chelsea a 1-0 victory against Arsenal, with substitute Didier Drogba's poor control proving a deadly finish in the battle of the titans.

Jens Lehmann had saved Arsenal twice in the first half, but it was yet again Drogba, with memories of a brace in the Community Shield still fresh in his mind, that proved the difference between the two sides.

A cautious study in the differing style of the Premiership's previous two champions, the first half had started and ended with fine Chelsea opportunities.

Damien Duff should have done much better in the first minute when Lampard's sublime ball in behind Ashley Cole sent him through.

The Irish star looked nervous about the onrushing Jens Lehmann and allowed the German to push the ball out wide enough to kill the move's momentum.

From the resultant corner, Freddie Ljungberg was Arsenal's saviour - chesting the ball off the line after John Terry had powered in a header.

Arsenal, over their opening jitters, started to counter Chelsea's more direct approach with their own careful passing, and Thierry Henry measured a shot wide before nudging Petr Cech just enough to give the keeper a foul before he slid out of the area with the ball.

Alexander Hleb, in his first competitive start, had slotted into the Gunners midfield like a veteran of Arsene Wenger's tenure, and he started a move that saw Henry's low cross blazed narrowly over by Ljungberg from a tight angle.

As it happened this was Ljungberg's last meaningful contribution before a recurrence of his calf injury brought Robin van Persie into the fray.

Kolo Toure had to be quick to prevent Hernan Crespo going clean through and was also at hand to time a tackle to prevent the Argentine from getting another shooting chance, whilst at the other end Cole was adamant he should have had a penalty.

With the half drawing to a close, Arsenal were again thankful to Lehmann for a fine stop - in the right place to spread himself and stop Robben's side footer with his head.

Half time saw the replacement of the largely ineffective Crespo with Drogba, the striker that had put Arsenal, and young defender Philippe Senderos to the sword in their Community Shield victory.

But it was Arsenal that had the first sighter, Cole picking out Henry with a delicious long ball that the curiously out-of-sorts France international uncharacteristically blasted over.

Frank Lampard has struggled to hit the ground running this season, but he showed a glimpse of last season's form when he played in Drogba, but, with the crowd rising expectantly, the Ivory Coast striker snatched at his shot and pummelled it horribly wide.

With time ticking quickly away, Mourinho threw on 50 million worth of talent - Shaun Wright-Phillips and new arrival Michael Essien replacing Eidur Gudjohnsen and Arjen Robben.

Essien showed his talent with a raking 40 yard ball to put Wright-Phillips in a fine position to cross, but Lehmann was in place to pluck the ball out of the air.

It appeared that only a moment of genius would split the two sides, but instead it was a moment of utter luck that gave Chelsea the lead.

Drogba looked offside from Lampard's free-kick but his awful control saw the ball bounce off his shin and dribble inexorably past the scrambling Jens Lehmann into the back of the net.

Henry finally warmed Petr Cech's hands with a shot that was parried out for a corner, but it was a rare glimpse of an Arsenal attack as Chelsea were visibly buoyed by their good fortune.

The final stages degenerated into a series of rather petulant tackles - Makelele, Cole and Senderos all ending up in the referee's notebook.

Drogba should have made it 2-0 in the dying stages, as Arsenal threw everything forward, but one on one he could not get the ball over the onrushing Lehmann.

It is far too early to look at this as a critical fixture in the title race, but it is very much first blood to Chelsea as they look to retain the Premiership title next May.

Chelsea Team Statistics Arsenal
1 Goals 0
0 1st Half Goals 0
4 Shots on Target 3
2 Shots off Target 6
3 Blocked Shots 0
3 Corners 7
18 Fouls 22
4 Offsides 0
2 Yellow Cards 3
0 Red Cards 0
77.3 Passing Success 83.1
30 Tackles 24
76.7 Tackles Success 79.2
45.5 Possession 54.5
44.2 Territorial Advantage 55.8


Chelsea  Cech, Ferreira, Terry, Gallas, Del Horno, Makelele, Robben (Wright-Phillips 59), Lampard, Duff, Gudjohnsen (Essien 59), Crespo (Drogba 45)
Subs Not Used  Cudicini, Huth
Booked  Gallas, Makelele
Goals  Drogba

Arsenal  Lehmann, Lauren, Senderos, Toure, Cole, Ljungberg (van Persie 26), Fabregas (Flamini 85), Silva,  Hleb, Pires, Henry
Subs Not Used  Almunia, Bergkamp, Flamini, Cygan
Booked  van Persie, Cole, Senderos

Attendance  42,136

Referee  G. Poll

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