Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Drogba Makes the Difference Yet Again

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Drogba Makes the Difference Yet Again

Article excerpt

Byline: By Mark Bradley

Didier Drogba inflicted further punishment on Arsenal as Chelsea seized the early initiative in the title race with their first league victory against the Gunners in 10 years.

Drogba, who scored twice against Arsene Wenger's side in the Blues' Community Shield victory, was one of Chelsea's three substitutes, who ( at almost pounds 70m ( cost more than the entire Arsenal squad.

However, while he wasted one clear opening at Stamford Bridge, he made Arsenal pay for a shocking lack of concentration at a free-kick as the ball squirmed off his shin to beat Jens Lehmann on 73 minutes.

Philippe Senderos, bullied into submission by Drogba in the Community Shield, was again at fault, even though the blame was shared by his unobservant team-mates, who were lured into relaxing on a goalless scoreline. However, the Swiss international's confidence was clearly affected and only Drogba's indecision in front of goal saved him from further punishment after a shocking attempted pass-back in the final minute.

Last season, Chelsea beat Manchester United by the same margin in their first home game, causing Sir Alex Ferguson to reflect that his side never truly recovered.

Arsenal must now ensure they do not similarly allow their morale to suffer, although they still lost the title by 12 points last season after holding Chelsea to two draws.

This was much the same story as in Cardiff ( huge swathes of possession, but only a few half-chances. Thierry Henry lacked support up-front, with Wenger having initially taken the rare step of selecting Robert Pires to play in behind his captain, with Alexander Hleb handed his full debut on the left flank.

Pires was presumably meant to occupy compatriot Claude Makelele, but it was instead Chelsea who made a storming start, almost seizing the lead within the first two minutes.

Frank Lampard's through-ball sent Damien Duff scampering through the centre, but Lehmann was out in a flash to dive at his feet and block the opening, with Senderos clearing the lingering danger.

Chelsea still won a corner, however, and Lehmann was fortunate when Freddie Ljungberg cleared off the line after the Arsenal keeper had only been able to take the sting off John Terry's powerful header. …

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