Arsenal slipped to a narrow 2-1 defeat at Chelsea on Sunday.
The Stamford Bridge side did their damage in the early stages. Straight after Olivier Giroud had dragged his shot past the far post, Chelsea went up the other end and Juan Mata fired high into the Arsenal net. Only six minutes had been played.
On the quarter-hour, Frank Lampard blasted home from the penalty spot after Wojciech Szczesny had clipped Ramires in the area.
Chelsea threatened more before the break but Arsenal were a different side after the restart. They piled pressure on the home goal and eventually the pressure on the hour when Theo Walcott burst through to fire home his 15th goal of the season.
The visitors continue to pressurise and, although they nearly got caught on the break on a couple of occasions, Arsène Wenger's spent injury-time camped in the Chelsea area.
On another day, Arsenal might have snatched something.
But not today.
Before kick-off, Wenger named a side Arsenal unchanged from the one that had looked so impressive in the 1-0 win over Swansea in midweek.
For Chelsea, Rafa Benitez brought back Fernando Torres and Branislav Ivanovic for Demba Ba and David Luiz
It was a snowy day in west London and, at kick-off, Stamford Bridge had a light covering. It would continue to fall throughout the 90 minutes this afternoon.
There was a major moment in the opening seconds. Abou Diaby wrapped his arms around Oscar on the left of the area and the Brazilian stumbled over. Chelsea shouted strongly for a penalty but Martin Atkinson waved play-on.
Arsenal recovered quickly and in the fifth minute created what would be their best move of the half.
Walcott slipped a delightful ball into the path of Giroud but the striker dragged his shot inches wide.
It would be costly.
Chelsea went to the other end seconds later and Cesar Azpilicueta's raking crossfield ball found Mata in space. He held off the backtracking Bacary Sagna to fire in the roof of the net.
Wenger was upset that the goal was allowed to stand as Ramires and trodden on Francis Coquelin's foot in the build-up to the goal. When the ball hit the net the Frenchman was lying in a heap in the centre circle.
It was an open game with neither midfield exerting much control. By the quarter-hour, Santi Cazorla's long-range shot had been beaten away by Petr Cech and Szczesny had done likewise to Eden Hazard's drive toward the near post
But, then in the 16th minute, Arsenal conceded a crucial second. Ramires caught Diaby in possession in midfield and Chelsea fled forward. Oscar found the Brazilian again in the area and Szczesny brought him down as he bore down on goal.
There was a covering defender so the Pole saw yellow not red. But he could do little to stop Lampard's penalty.
Arsenal now had to dig in. There had been an element of misfortunate about the first goal but the second had been avoidable.
The goal was no more than Arsenal deserved and Wenger's men did not take their foot off the gas
They started to venture forward a little more but they could not afford to concede a third. Chelsea would have only one real chance before the whistle.
In the 35th minute, Ramires skipped past a challenge from Kieran Gibbs to go clear on the right of the area but he blazed his shot over the bar.
Arsenal came out for the second half with renewed optimism. As a result, they created chances.
Mertesacker's snapshot and Walcott's drive both found the chest of Cech. But the visitors were at least taking the game to Chelsea.
Ten minutes in, Gibbs provided a hanging cross at the far post but Giroud could not get enough purchase.
The goal was coming and, just before the hour, they found the net when Cazorla sent Walcott scuttling through the middle. The striker stroked home.
Before Chelsea had a chance to kick-off. Aaron Ramsey had replaced the hobbling Coquelin.
The goal was no more than Arsenal had deserved and Wenger's men did not take their foot off the gas.
But Chelsea were still dangerous on the break and the pace of Torres troubled them on a couple of occasions.
With 15 minutes left, Wenger replaced the tiring Diaby with Andrey Arshavin. However Arsenal were struggling to maintain their intensity and, with eight minutes left, another Chelsea break nearly provided a third.
Substitute Ba beat the offside trap and then the onrushing Szczesny to leave himself with Vermaelen to beat. The Belgian stuck out a leg to keep Arsenal in the game.
This encounter had been fast-paced a entertaining throughout. All it needed was the right finale.
Arsenal tried manfully. Ashley Cole fouled Sagna on the edge of the area and Vermaelen's free-kick flew just wide then Giroud's dip from distance was saved by Cech.
Arsenal forced corner after corner in injury time as they camped in the Chelsea area. Walcott was denied and Giroud nodded over.
However the points went to the home side.
- Szczesny Yellow Card
- Vermaelen (C)
- Coquelin 58
- Diaby 75
- Walcott Goal!
- Ramsey 58
- Arshavin 75
- Cole Yellow Card
- Lampard (C) Goal!
- Hazard 88
- Mata Goal! Yellow Card
- Oscar 72
- Torres 81
- Bertrand 72
- Ba 81
- Marin 88