Chelsea play Arsenal in Beijing on Saturday as their tour of the Far East begins against their London rivals. There have been many great games between the two down the years, most of them going in the favour of the side from West London but I’ve chosen one that was a vintage performance by a Chelsea side on their way to the title in 2009.
It was a Sunday afternoon in November, a 4pm kick off under the lights at the Emirates. The Blues had beaten the Gunners 4-1 in their own backyard the season before but this game held so much more importance. Chelsea were top of the league under new manager, Carlo Ancelotti, and were looking to lift the Premier League for the first time in 4 years while Arsenal were a little way behind but were not out of it by any means. They’d have to wait until April for that.
It was a fairly even first half, Arsenal had the lion’s share of possession but Chelsea had edged it in creating chances. The more effective attacking pressure from the Blues paid off in the minutes leading up to half time as former gunner, Ashley Cole, helped Chelsea into a 2-goal lead. The first came when Cole drove down the left and sent a low cross into the penalty area which found the boot of Didier Drogba. The Ivorian skillfully guided it into the far top corner of the goal, bouncing in off the woodwork way out of the reach of Manuel Almunia in goal.
Drogba proceeded to slide on his knees towards Cole whilst saluting, this celebration has become a famous image in Chelsea’s history but Drogba was not done yet. Chelsea doubled their lead in almost identical fashion but it came through an Arsenal player. It was Cole again who provided the assist, putting in another cross towards Drogba but instead found Belgian centre-back, Thomas Vermaelen, who diverted it into the same corner as Drogba had scored in just minutes before.
The Ivorian striker scored one of his best goals in a Chelsea shirt towards the end of the second half to put the game out of Arsenal’s reach. He placed the ball down about 25 yards from goal, to the left of centre. He stepped up and sent the ball flying and dipping over the wall into the far bottom corner, past the despairing Almunia and Drogba set off towards the away fans and was pursued by his team mates. The game ended 3-0 and it proved vital in Chelsea’s quest to win the title as the league was decided on the final day so all 3 points at the home of their fierce rivals were extremely important come May.