By David Alexander
Lee Dixon was sent off and five players were booked in a typical London derby at
Stamford Bridge. Dixon went off for his second bookable offence, Arsenal's second
red card in successive games and the third between the two sides in two season.
There may not have been any goals, but Chelsea against Arsenal always
provides incident and entertainment. As you would expect from a London derby of this magnitude, the game
started at a frenetic pace and never gave up.
Though the defence was stretched towards the end as Chelsea went forward
in search of a winning goal, defending has always been one of Arsenal's
Tony Adams almost gave Arsenal a dream start with a glancing header from Manu
Petit's second minute corner. Tackles flew in at frightening speed and angles,
with Martin Keown becoming the first name in the book for a lunging dive at
Anyone who doubted David Seaman's quality, and there were those who
unfairly criticised him after England's defeat at the hands of Sweden,
saw just how good he is in the 13th minute.
Gianfranco Zola ghosted through the midfield and curled a shot towards
the top corner from 25 yards. Seaman was slightly off his line, but managed
to tip the ball out for a corner.
Bernard Lambourde volleyed wide from the corner and then Casiraghi was
played in by Graeme Le Saux, stumbling as he hit his shot.
As the midfield battle continued to dominate the match, inevitably so,
shots at goal became more and more distant.
Typical of a derby, the tackles continued to crunch, with Le Saux going
into the book for a nasty tackle on Lee Dixon. Both players were booked in
what was to be a telling episode in the game.
From the subsequent free kick, Dixon blasted the ball just wide and
Frank LeBoeuf had to make a superb tackle to prevent Bergkamp running
Nicholas Anelka came closest to opening the scoring as the half neared
its end, shooting across goal from an acute angle.
The second half started where the first left off, with Michael Duberry hauling
down Overmars after Anelka put him through. Keown then headed over his own bar
from Zola's teasing cross, the first of two successive corners and a free kick
which kept the pressure on Arsenal.
Emmanuel Petit was whacked on the head by Le Saux, reacting angrily to
the challenge which produced a hold-up in play for treatment to Petit's
But the game was in stalemate, Bergkamp's pass to Anelka promting the
clearest chance for an opening. LeBoeuf made another fine tackle and was
injured in the process.
Chelsea were determined to turn their pressure into goals, taking
off the disappointing Brian Laudrup and bringing on Gustavo Poyet.
But the game swung in Chelsea's favour on the hour after Dixon brought
down Le Saux and earned his second yellow card, Arsenal's second red in
Remi Garde was immediately brought on for Overmars to keep the defence
Casiraghi thought he had a penalty when Patrick Vieira cut him down
inside the box, but the referee gave nothing to the despair of the Chelsea
bench. The Italian striker then lobbed the ball over the bar when he ghosted
behind the defence, but the referee had blown for handball anyway.
At the other end, Ed de Goey could only parry compatriot Bergkamp's long
To add to the controversy of the game, Chelsea again thought they had a
penalty, five minutes from time, when Le Saux's cross hit Keown on the
chest, but nothing was given.
With Hughes on in place of Anelka to bolster the side in the dying
stages, Arsene Wenger signalled his desire to get a point form the game, but the
late entrance of Christopher Wreh for Dennis Bergkamp gave more pace to the
Di Matteo then went down in the area but there was little protest from
the home side and Poyet's glancing header went precariously wide in injury
So, a second clean sheet against potential championship opposition, the
third in four games this season. Goals may be hard to come by, but we
still have not tasted defeat and have two tricky away games out of the way.
Arsene Wenger admitted the result had been a good one after the sending
"When we were down to 10 men, we were well organised.
"Dixon wanted to play the ball and it was just a little bit late and he
"We have come back with two points from Liverpool and Chelsea and a
point at Stamford Bridge is not so bad.
"We needed the old traditional Arsenal spirit."