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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
April 21, 2012
• 7:45 AM
• Emirates Stadium, London
Referee: M. Dean
• Attendance: 60111
But it comes to nothing and Mike Dean blows his whistle. That's it! A point-a-piece in this tense Champions League battle. Well, a very decent second half with many chances being traded but we don't yet have a clearer idea of the final picture of the race for Europe. Arsenal move six points clear of Spurs and Newcastle, having played two games more, but Chelsea are still lingering in sixth.
90' + 4'
LAST chance of the game. Bosingwa wins a corner and EVERYONE bar Cech is up for it..
90' + 3'
Is there going to be a late winner, here? Arsenal are advancing towards goal with Santos...but Cahill knocks the ball clear towards Torres. The Spaniard's in-field pass is picked up by Szczesny and Arsenal can break again.
90' + 2'
With four or five players screaming at him for the ball, Abou Diaby plays a through-ball...to no one. Complete disdain from Gunners fans.
90' + 1'
Poor corner and it comes to nothing. Petr Cech is now going to hoof this forward.
FOUR minutes of added time. That's long enough for one of these teams to find a winner. Arsenal corner.
Both teams believe they can win it now as Robin Van Persie feigns a shot and attempts a threaded pass towards the on-rushing Santos. Moments later, Daniel Sturridge tries a 40-yard volley. This is a ludicrously exciting ending!
Mata lofted a through ball towards Sturridge and Vermaelen cannot control it well enough. The English striker prepares to pull the trigger but JUST in time, Koscielny gather the ball and boots it out for a corner. SO close.
Gervinho gallops forward and lays it off to Van Persie, who jinks back and back again, and back again in the penalty area, when he should shoot! The chance goes as a Blues defender comes to the rescue and out for a corner.
Arsenal are starting to settle in midfield, and it appears to be coming at the right time. Clinical Gunners possession right now, as Wenger's men keep plugging away at the Chelsea defence.
A lucky Alex Song through ball is missed by John Terry and Robin Van Persie has a golden opportunity to test Petr Cech once more. But, we all know he's not as good on his right as he is on his left, and the ball flies wide.
Yellow Card Ashley Cole
Ashley Cole kicked out at Alex Song after losing possession. Mike Dean immediately resolves the situation by brandishing yet another yellow card. Poor decision by the left-back.
A BIG call for an Arsenal penalty, mainly from the fans, as Cahill climbs all over Van Persie in the box following a chipped Song pass. Mike Dean ignores the cries and waves play on.
Van Persie traded passes with Andre Santos, but the Dutchman couldn't pick up the final through ball. He would have been one-on-one.
It's getting to that stage of the game where both sides are feeling they can nick it. It's starting to get stretched in midfield, with neither team stamping their control.
Yellow Card A. Diaby
Diaby finds himself the wrong side of Essien, and flies in uncontrollably on the Ghanaian. Yellow card for Diaby, and each side now has several bookings..
Both sides are cancelling each other out again, and, as I say that...Juan Mata NEARLY breaks the offside trap from a looped freekick. The midfielder scores, but it won't count.
Juan Mata on for Salomon Kalou.
And, as expected, Juan Mata is ready to come on for Chelsea. They need some passing cohesion, and I'm sure the diminutive Spaniard can help in that regard.
Yellow Card José Bosingwa
Neat passing play from Arsenal finds Van Persie in the box, who lays it off to Diaby, and the Frenchman's fierce shot is blocked out by Ryan Bertrand, who is having a fantastic game today.
A similar pattern is resuming, with Chelsea in the ascendancy. Torres plays in Sturridge on the right, whose inside-of-the-boot shot is well-held by Szczesny. ANOTHER sub now for the Gunners, with Andre Santos coming on for Oxlaide-Chamberlain. Defensive change I think there..?
Following a spate of successive substitutions, we can now get on with the game again as Sturridge and Van Persie both have chances. The Dutchman tried to execute another wonder-goal volley, but it flies anti-goalbound.
John Obi Mikel
Jon Obi Mikel is also getting ready on the touchline. The Nigerian comes on for Oriol Romeu.
And...I'm sorry to say it, but the Dutchman wallops it high over the crossbar. Diaby now replaces Tomas Tosicky.
RVP now has a freekick chance from 25 yards out. Gunners fans, this is an opportunity...
Kalou looks to send Sturridge again, but, again...the ball isn't good enough. Roberto Di Matteo might want to think about changing his attack up a bit. There isn't enough intricacy or accuracy, in both teams, right now.
Gervinho is now coming on for Walcott, who has really tweaked it now. The English winger is lying down on the touchline again, clearly in a great deal of pain.
Well, Walcott's back on the pitch and following this, Van Perise manages to wriggle through a dangerous little cross from the left, which Cech does well to keep hold of, as attackers were waiting to pounce.
Gervinho is stripping off his tracksuit on the bench, with Walcott looking increasingly likely to come off.
A scrappy couple of minutes ensues, with possession being traded unnecessarily and offsides being distributed. Walcott's just gone down off the ball, too. The winger pulled up after feeling his hamstring.
Yellow Card Gary Cahill
Bookings are raining down on this fixture now, as Cahill is the latest name in Dean's little black book.
Another through ball, this time played through by Torres, finds Sturridge and Vermaelen HAS to get there otherwise the Englishman is one-on-one. The Belgian clears, JUST.
Which comes to nothing, but more chances are coming Chelsea's way, as Romeu threads through a brilliant pass towards the onrushing Kalou. Szczesny collects, thankfully for the Gunners.
Chelsea have started this half brightly, as Torres turns in the box to maneuver a little bit of space. Corner for Chelsea as his cross is shot out.
Yellow Card Robin van Persie
And just as he wins a booking, Van Persie commits the perfect 'strikers tackle' - obviously atrocious - on Michael Essien. Booking for RVP, too.
Yellow Card Florent Malouda
Chelsea are passing the ball around better now, with Essien finding space outside the box to fire in a shot, which is deflected out for a Blues throw-in. Arsenal counter though and Malouda brings down Van Persie in the middle of the pitch. The Frenchman picks up a booking, too.
John Terry pings through a beamer of a long ball towards Sturridge, but it's one bounce away from being perfect and Szczesny collects.
Chelsea restart the game.
The second half is about to get underway.
45' + 2'
The final chance of this first half is whipped in by Walcott from a left-sided freekick but the chance comes to nothing following solid Chelsea defending. That should be it for this half now.
45' + 1'
Two minutes of stoppage time here at the Emirates and Arsenal are certainly finishing the stronger side, with van Persie and Koscielny both having golden opportunities.
A Malouda corner is met by John Terry on the run, and the Englishman's header flies a yard over. Barely a moment later, Alex Song floats a typical ball across to Van Persie, who, again is in acres of space in the box, chests it down and fires a left-footed volley across goal. The goalkeeper gets a strong hand to it, though. So many good chances right at the end of this first half.
And AGAIN Arsenal hit the woodwork! An RVP curler from the right finds Koscielny in absolutely miles of space in the middle of the box and the Frenchman's header rockets off the crossbar as Cech was stranded. Poor Chelsea defending and, again, Arsenal should lead.
The only clear-cut chance this game has seen was RVP's post-hittng attempt from Walcott's freekick. Another freekick now for us though...
The paciest Arsenal break I think I have EVER seen results in a corner. Before that, Kalou was again brought down by Sagna in the box. Another tricky decision for Dean.
With eight changes, you'd think that Chelsea would play in a completely different manner to the midweek Barcelona fixture, but Arsenal are finding the Blues similarly difficult to break down.
A brilliant curler finds Vermaelen in the middle of a pack of players, whose headed effort cannot be directed goalwards. Deflected out for a corner!
More like 40 yards out, RVP lining it up...
Walcott takes a push in the back about 35 yards out and Arsenal have a decent freekick opportunity here.
Chelsea look dangerous on the counter attack, with Daniel Sturridge and Florent Malouda in particular looking lively. The former and the latter trade crosses, without any luck, but it's certainly a threat.
Arsenal with more possession right now but both teams are displaying a penchant for losing the ball. The midfield is pretty congested now, after such an open start.
Yellow Card Tomas Rosicky
Ramsey loses the ball AGAIN and the fans are really starting to get heated about it. Rosicky responds by hacking down Ryan Bertrand, and the Czech captain picks up a yellow card for his troubles. Thanks, Aaron Ramsey.
Malouda is down at the moment, receiving treatment for a head clash with Bacary Sagna. Looked painful, that.
The Gunners fans are starting to get on the back of Aaron Ramsey, who gives the ball away for the second time in as many minutes, allowing Malouda to fire a 30-yard screamer goalbound, which takes a deflection and loops out for a corner. Following this, Kalou somehow breaks the offside trap and, with only the goalkeeper to beat, can't get it under control with Torres again waiting in the centre. Chelsea are getting the chances right now.
The resulting wave of corners end in another Torres snapshot, which rebounds out to Cahill, whose angled volley is...slightly too angled...and it flies miles over.
Good work by Sturridge finds Kalou rampaging down the left, with Torres waiting in the centre. The Ivorian's delivery can't quite reach the Spaniard as Koscielny clears it out for a corner.
Both teams seem to be playing similar systems and the London clubs are certainly cancelling each other out at the moment. Maybe this is playing into Roberto Di Matteo's hands.
Vermaelen just caught John Terry, there, as the Belgian looked to get on the end of a Gibbs cross. The Englishman lay on the ground for a minute or two before bobbing back up again.
Vermaelen lifts through a lofted through ball to the offside van Persie. Regardless, the Dutchman chips Cech and it rebounds off the crossbar. He is SO technically gifted.
One of the more fascinating battles this afternoon has gives us its first glimpse: Walcott versus Bertrand. The English winger darts past the defender and touches in a low cross which doesn't find an Arsenal player. Could bear fruit, that particular duel.
Before that chance Chelsea had certainly set the pace and looked to be in control. That will certainly settle Arsenal down now, though, as they look to enjoy more possession.
Wow, POST! Walcott lifts in a delicious little curler towards the far post. Captain Robin van Persie gets the perfect toe on it, but the ball bounces back off the post and out for a goalkick. Should be one up, the Gunners.
Oxlaide-Chamberlain, with his first opportunity to run at defenders, cutting in from the left, is brought down by Michael Essien. Freekick 25 yards out...
Bertrand sends a screaming, early cross from in the left and Torres is INCHES away from getting something on it. Fernando was offside anyhow.
A brilliant ball into van Persie sees the Dutchman attempt a layoff to the on-rushing Theo Walcott. His pace was too great to adjust his footing, though, and the play dies down.
Both teams trading possession and indeed, both teams launching decent attacks. It looks quite open this one. Killer passes lacking thus far.
Oooh penalty shout, here. Kalou dribbles down the left, trying to cut infield but Bacary Sagna was alert, though the Ivorian went down as he cross the penalty area boundary. The ball dribbled out for a goal kick, according to referee Mike Dean, though.
Rosicky picks up the ball about 40 yards out and advances unchallenged towards the penalty area, with Walcott deceiving defenders by making one of his trademark scything runs. The attacking midfielder chooses to ignore Walcott and fire goalwards. Safely saved down low by Petr Cech.
Finally Chelsea acquire possession and immediately Fernando Torres wins a freekick, following a good-looking challenge by Alex Song. The Spaniard needs to stamp his authority on the Chelsea side today.
Arsenal haven't given the ball away yet - impressive passing from the Gunners as ever. That is definitely helped by the fact that Arsenal head groundsman Paul Ashcroft has just been credited with Premier League groundsman of the year!
Arsenal get us underway!
Even if Arsenal go behind today, they won't be fazed. They have the best 'comeback' record in the league this season, winning SIX of the matches in which they conceded first - three more than any other side.
Worth a reminder, the last time these two teams met...Robin van Persie scored a pretty good hat-trick to beat Chelsea 5-3 at Stamford Bridge.
If they need it, Chelsea, they've got a helluva bench...Lampard, Mata, Meireles, Cole..
Minutes away from kickoff, now, as the players match up against each other in the unfairly large Emirates tunnel.
Arsenal's last game at the Emirates was a 2-1 home defeat to, believe it or not, Wigan! Roberto Martinez's reinvigorated side put in an impressive performance against the Gunners, who will be looking to bounce back with another win in a London derby.
Well I think the theme for today is 'unpredictable'. This is the start of a veritable football feast, with a whole DAY of Premier League action following this game and then the famed El Clasico this evening. So much could happen between now and this evening.
Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain gets a start, too. The U21 international hasn't played a full 90 minutes for Arsenal yet. Perhaps this is the day? Oh and by the way, 'The Ox' is also up for the PFA Young Player of the Year award! He's doing alright, isn't he?
A whole EIGHT changes to the Chelsea side that beat Barcelona in midweek, so I'm thinking Roberto Di Matteo's priorities might lie elsewhere?
CFC subs: Turnbull, Ferreira, Cole, Lampard, Mikel, Mata, Meireles.
CFC team news: Cech; Bosingwa Cahill Terry Bertrand; Essien Romeu Malouda; Sturridge Torres Kalou
AFC subs: Fabianski, Djourou, Santos, Diaby, Coquelin, Gervinho, Chamakh.
Here is your AFC team news: Szczesny; Sagna Vermaelen Koscielny Gibbs; Song Ramsey; Walcott Rosicky Oxlade-Chamberlain; Van Persie
Welcome to Goal.com's LIVE! play-by-play of the crucial London derby between Arsenal and Chelsea at the Emirates stadium. My name is James Burford and I'll be taking you through the twists and turns of this particular battle. Champions League qualification for the next campaign is all important for both sides as the race for third and fourth really heats up.
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