The drought is over. It may have taken him 14 games, series of mind games and many failures. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain goal was all that was required to give Arsene Wenger his first-ever victory over Jose Mourinho.
Before the game, the statistics gave the impression that this was going to be a very uncomfortable afternoon for Arsenal. However, this Arsenal side were not ready to play according to the scripts. Their recent visits to the new Wembley stadium have been generally successful and Chamberlain’s winner means Arsenal are unbeaten in their last six visits to the English national stadium.
The Gunners were solid and defensively efficient throughout, qualities usually associated with Chelsea and very alien to the Arsenal of old whose fragility and frequent loss of concentration in key moments against the bigger sides had been a constant source of frustration and disappointment to their fans. Chelsea were without star striker Diego Costa, who had an injury scare, an absence the Portugese coach attributed to a discomfort in his hamstring. In Costa’s absence, Loic Remy got the nod to lead the lines, while fringe player Ramires was also given a start partnering Matic in central midfield with Fabregas playing further forward in midfield. New signings Asmir Begovic and Radamel Falcao had to make do with a place on the bench. Jack Wilshere joined Welbeck on the sidelines with injuries for Arsenal.
Chelsea took time to get going while Chamberlain and Walcott’s pace were causing problem to the Chelsea backline. Midway through the first half, Mesut Ozil smartly found Walcott unmarked in the middle who fed the increasingly dangerous Chamberlain on the inside right of the box. Cesar failed to close him down quick enough and a swift shift followed by a curling shot from Chamberlain put Arsenal 1-0 up. That was the first goal Arsenal had scored against a Chelsea team managed by José Mourinho since 2007. Ramires then missed a golden chance to draw level in the first half following some hesitation from the Arsenal defence as he missed a point-blank header from six yards. The Gunners went in at half time with a lead to protect.
Petr Cech saved an excellent Oscar free-kick to draw roars from Arsenal supporters. Clear cut chances were few and far between until the closing stages of the game when Cazorla and Gibbs missed good chances to seal a more comfortable win. The hostility between the two managers continued at the end of the game as Mourinho made a point of shaking hands with every Arsenal player but ignored Wenger.
The Portugese was also far from impressed with the opposition style of play and stated that the best team lost the game while the defensive side had won. He further claimed that the Gunners had left their philosophy in the dressing room. Wenger quickly defended his team by stating: “Our game is based on solidarity, defending and attacking well. We wanted to protect our lead when we were 1-0 up.” He was also quick to praise his new goalkeeper Petr Cech and said: “He had an impact because maybe the Chelsea players thought they needed to score a perfect goal to beat him.”
Arsenal will be motivated by this victory as they seek to launch a serious bid for the title this season. They begin the season at home against West Ham United. Meanwhile, the Blues kick off their title defence by entertaining Swansea City, hoping to bounce back from rare disappointment against their London rival.