Goalscorers: Frank Lampard 14, Robin van Persie 36, 85, 90, John Terry 45, Andre Santos 49, Theo Walcott 55, Juan Mata 80
Chelsea: Petr Cech, Branislav Ivanovic, Jose Bosingwa, Ashley Cole, John Terry, John Obi Mikel (Raul Meireles 76), Ramires (Romelu Lukaku 72), Frank Lampard, Juan Mata, Daniel Sturridge (Florent Malouda 62), Fernando Torres
Arsenal: Wojciech Szczesny, Per Mertesacker, Andre Santos, Laurent Koscielny, Johan Djourou (Carl Jenkinson 76), Mikel Arteta, Alex Song, Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott (Tomas Rosicky 79), Gervinho (Thomas Vermaelen 88), Robin van Persie
Referee: Andre Marriner, Attendance: 41,801
Chelsea and Arsenal have played out some brilliant encounters during the Premier League era and this meeting at Stamford Bridge in October 2011 must definitely rank among the best. It was a crazy match where attacking instincts were rewarded and defensive frailties for both teams were exposed.
Andre Villas-Boas’ side were coming off the back of a damaging 1-0 defeat a week earlier to Queens Park Rangers which saw Jose Bosingwa and Didier Drogba sent off, whilst John Terry had been accused of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand. Despite the off-field distractions, it was the Blues who struck first on 14 minutes. From Juan Mata’s great cross, Frank Lampard made one of his trademark runs into the box and he placed a header past Wojciech Szczesny.
Lampard nearly grabbed an assist soon afterwards when his tremendous ball picked out Daniel Sturridge. Unfortunately for Lampard, Sturridge horribly sliced his effort wide of the post. Arsenal had already missed a couple of great opportunities but finally took one of their chances nine minutes before the interval. Aaron Ramsey’s defence-splitting pass opened up the hosts’ backline and Gervinho squared the ball for his skipper, Robin van Persie to tap home.
Sturridge had a goal disallowed for offside before Chelsea regained their lead before half-time. Arsenal’s weakness all season had been defending from set-pieces and they conceded yet again from this situation. Lampard’s corner was bundled into the back of the net by Terry who escaped some suspect marking from the Gunners. After his testing week, it was a nice way for him to end it in a positive manner.
The fast-paced nature of this match continued after the break as Arsenal turned the game around in the opening 10 minutes of the second half. First, left-back Andre Santos scored before the brilliant Theo Walcott escaped the attentions of Lampard and Branislav Ivanovic and recovering from a slight stumble, he drilled a shot inside Petr Cech’s defences at his near post.
In-between this, Arsenal goalkeeper Szczesny charged out of his goal and hacked down Ashley Cole. The covering defenders meant referee Andre Marriner opted to take the yellow card option after advice from his assistants. A grandstand finish was set-up when Mata levelled the scores at 3-3 with 10 minutes to go with a brilliant strike from distance although Arsene Wenger was furious, feeling Santos had been fouled in the build-up by substitute Romelu Lukaku.
Then, the crucial moment came with five minutes left. Terry slipped, allowing Van Persie to race clear. The Dutchman rounded Cech and put the ball into a gaping goal to score his second of the afternoon. In the 89th minute, he completed a marvellous hat-trick, flashing a shot past Cech after being played in by Mikel Arteta.
This was Arsenal’s first away victory of the season and a memorable victory for the Gunners. Van Persie took his tally to 28 goals in 27 Premier League games in 2011 and he finished as the league’s top goalscorer in what proved to be his last season in an Arsenal jersey.