Premier League champions Chelsea won only their second league game this season against nine-man Arsenal in a fiery match at Stamford Bridge. Defender Kurt Zouma – preferred to dropped captain John Terry – headed the opening goal after 53 minutes and Chelsea secured only their second win in six Premier League games this season when Eden Hazard’s shot flew in off Calum Chambers late on. This barely tells the story of a game that will leave Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger furious and frustrated in equal measure as he saw his players fall victim to the trademark and predictable wind-up tactics of Chelsea striker Diego Costa.
Arsenal defender Gabriel was sent off seconds before half-time for kicking out at Costa. It came at the end of a lengthy spat after the striker had shoved his hand into the face of Laurent Koscielny three times. It handed the momentum to Chelsea and Arsenal’s misery was complete when Santi Cazorla was given a second yellow card for a foul on Cesc Fabregas. All this mattered little to Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, who will regard this win as another sign that the reigning Premier League champions are moving somewhere towards their normal selves. Costa enjoys cult status as the anti-hero of Stamford Bridge – but you will not hear many warm words for him anywhere else and certainly not from Arsenal. This was a grim day all-round for the Gunners, not simply because they lost once more to Chelsea and received another setback to their hopes of challenging for the Premier League title, but also because they lost defender Gabriel and midfield man Cazorla to red cards.
And to add to their fury, they also left west London nursing a burning sense of injustice that Costa stayed on despite pushing the rules to the limit and beyond. The Premier League’s angriest man started a chain of events that led to Gabriel’s sending off by shoving Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny three times in the face and then barging the defender to the ground. Gabriel tried to help his team-mate and a lengthy dispute with Costa ended with the Arsenal defender finally being hooked by the obvious bait offered up by the striker, kicking out to receive a straight red card from referee Mike Dean. Foolish, but surely action also to be taken against Costa for the incident with Koscielny? Arsenal’s reduced numbers made their task almost impossible and altered the face of the game.