FT: Chelsea 2 Arsenal 1

Arsenal were transformed in the second half, but could not get back on terms after their dismal opening 45 minutes. A rare, but very welcome, home victory for Rafa Benitez. Stay with us for a full match report and all the reaction.

The full-time whistle goes and Chelsea have held on for three precious points.

Arsenal keep pressing, with Chelsea defending deep and in numbers, with Giroud heading narrowly over from Wilshere's cross.

Superb challenge from Cahill to prevent Walcott getting a shot in after Giroud had headed down.

Giroud is found inside the area, but his cut-back is cleared away. The Frenchman was looking for Arshavin to attack the ball, but he was on his heels.

Five additional minutes will be played.

Mata's free-kick is nodded out and Bertrand returns the ball with interest. It strikes Sagna on the arm, but he knew nothing about it and Martin Atkinson waves play on. Giroud tries a shot from range, but it is easy for Cech.

Ramsey brings down bar around 35 yards from goal as Chelsea look to run the clock down.

Marko Marin comes on for Eden Hazard.

The improbably figure of Vermaelen steps up and fires a low free-kick beyond the wall but wide of Cech's goal.

Wilshere's poor free-kick is cleared, but the ball comes back in and Sagna looks to get away from Cole, only to be felled right on the edge of the area, with the Chelsea man booked.

Ba is in the action again, getting away from Gibbs before the defender slides in with an excellent challenge.

OFF THE LINE!!! Ba breaks away down the left into acres of space. He takes on Szczesny and then steadies himself to shoot, only for Vermaelen to produce an outstanding block to clear from under his own bar.

Walcott attempts a very ambitious shot from range only for Cole to block with ease.

Arshavin tries to get away from Azpilicueta, but only succeeds in knocking the ball out for a goal-kick.

Torres' afternoon is over, with Demba Ba on for the closing stages.

Wilshere leaves the field briefly for treatment, but is OK to continue.

Ramires bursts away from Jack Wilshere, with the Arsenal man going to ground holding his face and charges towards the box. Vermaelen does not fall for his step-overs and puts in an excellent challenge.

Torres takes a shot from outside the and looks to curl it beyond Szczesny into the far corner, but his effort lacks power and is easy for the keeper.

Andrey Arshavin is thrown on by Arsene Wenger in place of Abou Diaby.

Ramsey earns a free-kick out near the touchline just inside the Chelsea half as he is brought down by Ramires.

Mata's corner is cleared to the edge of the area where Ramires drills it back in and Szczesny is forced to push it away.

Chelsea make a change and Oscar is replaced by Ryan Bertrand.

Another good driving run from Torres to get away from Vermaelen once again, but the final ball is lacking as he tries to find Hazard and Arsenal clear.

Torres bursts away from Mertesacker and then Vermaelen, only to over-run the ball and allow Szczesny to come off his line and gather. Demba Ba is warming up.

Gibbs is forward again, twisting and turning inside the Chelsea box only to see his low cross cleared.

One thing Arsenal are still to learn is how to take corners, as this latest effort is cut out by Lampard at the far post. A real waste.

Cazorla's free-kick cannons into the wall and behind for a corner.

Cole is penalised for a foul on Walcott on the edge of the box. The Chelsea man is furious, while Mata is booked for kicking the ball away.

Chelsea have the chance to break as Lampard finds Mata, but his attempted pass to Torres did not read the striker's run.

Torres is penalised for a foul on Ramsey deep in the Arsenal half. Chelsea are yet to threaten in this half and it is now a completely different game.

Walcott is back on the field and goes close to levelling as a swift Arsenal break sees them bearing down on the Chelsea defence, but the forward drags his shot wide of the target.

Another worry for the Gunners is that Theo Walcott is limping and off the field receiving treatment. Chelsea kick off and we're set for an enthralling 30 minutes.

Arsenal are forced to make a change as the injured Coquelin is replaced by Aaron Ramsey.

Arsenal make their pressure pay as Santi Cazorla threads the ball through for Walcott to burst onto and beat Cech with aplomb.


Great work from Gibbs down the left as he breaks forward before cutting back and then clipping a great cross in to Giroud at the far post. The Frenchman looks favourite for the ball, but is put off by Ivanovic and his header lacks the power to trouble Cech.

Great sliding challenge from Gibbs to deny Hazard. Much more fight and desire from Arsenal so far.

After brief treatment, Giroud is back in the fray.

Azpilicueta has the chance to cross, but over-hits it badly. Meanwhile Giroud is down in the centre circle after taking an inadvertent knee to the hip and back area from Ramires.

Mata looks to feed Torres down the left flank, but Vermaelen is across to cover well.

Sagna looks to get away from Ivanovic and cross, but the ball deflects back off the Arsenal man and out for a goal-kick. Rafa Benitez is trying to urge his team on from the sidelines.

And another opportunity for the visitors. Wilshere is again the provider, feeding Walcott, but his low shot is too close to Cech. Good response from Arsenal.

Chance for Arsenal! Wilshere's free-kick is poorly headed away by Ivanovic. The ball lands at Mertesacker's feet inside the area, but his shot is straight at Cech.

Coquelin goes down under a challenge from Ramires in midfield and earns a free-kick, before Cole is penalised for tangling with Walcott.

Arsenal get the second period under way. Can they emulate Southampton in midweek and mount a stirring comeback?

Arsene Wenger has sent the Arsenal players back out onto the field early in the second half, with Chelsea only just joining them now.

Referee Martin Atkinson brings the first half to a close. Chelsea have been dominant and could have been further clear by the interval. Arsenal really need to shake things up in the second period.

Coquelin finds Walcott in behind the Chelsea defence, but he has gone too soon again and sees the flag go up, with his poor shot missing the target.

One additional minute will be played.

The England man steps away and Mata's curling cross is knocked back into the path of Torres, who slashes wildly off target.

Wilshere concedes a free-kick some 35 yards from goal, with Lampard lining up to hit it.

Mata's kick is low and poor and the Gunners clear their lines.

Chelsea force a corner as Ramires' ball into the box is flicked behind by the Gunners defence.

Arsenal think they have opened Chelsea up as Giroud and Wilshere combine, but the latter's pass through to Walcott finds the England man in an offside position.

Oscar attempts to find Lampard on the edge of the area, but Mertesacker clears. Sagna is back on the field after some brief treatment.

Wilshere's kick at least misses Cech on this occasion, but Chelsea are back in possession and on the attack again.

Wilshere's resulting free-kick is headed behind for a corner.

Sagna is down and appears to be in some pain after an innocuous clash with Oscar.

Chelsea cut Arsenal open again as Mata finds Ramires, who walks away from Gibbs to create a shooting chance, only to blaze well over the bar.

Wilshere then tries to set Walcott away down the right, but the forward has just strayed beyond Ashley Cole and into an offside position.

Great ball into the box by Wilshere is superbly controlled by Giroud, but he is crowded out by Ivanovic and Cahill before he can shoot.

Sagna and Walcott attempt to break, but the French defender's pass to the England forward is poor and Chelsea put the ball out.

Oscar teases Sagna before rolling the ball to Cole, but his low cross is cleared away. Giroud then breaks, but Cech races off his line to hoof away.

Now Sagna gets forward and has the chance to cross, but again it is straight to Cech.

Sagna is sleeping at right-back, allowing Cole to steal in behind him as a deep cross is played into the box, but the former Gunners man's header is neither on target or into the path of Torres.

Azpilicueta threads a pass through to Mata, but his low cross is headed away. Chelsea are in total control of this match.

Cazorla tries to find Wilshere on a rare Arsenal attack, but Ramires gets back to clear.

Chelsea have a free-kick out on the right, but it is completely over-hit by Mata and goes out for a goal-kick.

Dismal play from Arsenal as they allow Chelsea to break from their corner. Mata finds Hazard on the right but his attempted cross back into Torres in the middle is cut out.

Third corner of the game for Arsenal. First two have come to nothing, and this one is straight into Cehc's hands too.

Mata feeds Hazard down the right flank, he works some space and then fires in a disappointing shot which lacks power and Szczesny saves.

Chelsea are not giving Arsenal any time on the ball, snapping into tackles in midfield and putting pressure on the Gunners defence.

GOAL TO CHELSEA!!! Frank Lampard steps up and sends Szczesny the wrong way.

Diaby gives the ball away to Ramires. He feeds Torres, who finds Mata. His ball back to Ramires finds him in acres of space before being brought down by Szczesny, who is booked.


Azpilicueta's low cross is only half-cleared and Oscar drives in a first-time shot which sails over the bar.

Excellent opening to this match. Chances at either end of the field and both teams really going for it.

Going back to the goal for a moment, Arsene Wenger was furious after Chelsea scored as he felt that Ramires had fouled Coquelin in the build-up. Replays show he has a pretty strong case....

Superb run from Hazard, breaking into the box on the right as he beats two men before firing in a shot which Szczesny has to push behind. Arsenal push out from the resulting corner, with Lampard in an offside position as he hits the outside of the post.

Arsenal look to get back on terms swiftly and Cech is forced to plunge to his right to push away Cazorla's long-range shot, before gathering the corner with ease.

Great finish from Mata, taking Azpilicueta's excellent diagonal ball in his stride before firing beyond Szczesny from inside the area.

GOAL FOR CHELSEA!!! Juan Mata scores!!

GREAT CHANCE FOR ARSENAL!!! Walcott threads an excellent ball through the Chelsea defence for Giroud, who takes his time and drills his shot across the face of goal and wide of the far post. He should have opened the scoring there.

Arsenal attempt to break out, but Giroud's ball towards Wilshere leaves the midfielder with too much to do and Chelsea regain possession.

Lampard flights the free kick into the box, but the ball is headed over the bar for an Arsenal goal kick.

Torres breaks away from Mertesacker but falls under a poor challenge from the Arsenal man. No booking, when perhaps there could have been one.

First shot of the game from Frank Lampard with less than 60 seconds on the clock, but his effort from distance is well off target.

Chelsea are on the attack immediately, probing for an opening down the left, but Arsenal stand firm.

Chelsea get us under way as Fernando Torres, sporting a new hair cut, kicks off.

There is still some snow in the air in west London, but the pitch looks in excellent condition. The pre-match handshakes and formalities take place and both teams head off for their final warm-ups.

The two teams are in the tunnel with kick-off just five minutes away. Thanks for all your comments this afternoon - enjoy the game!

Usman Abdulqadir is another who is unsure over Benitez's selection policy, as he writes: "I am surprised Rafa has gone with Torres ahead of Demba Ba. I think Chelsea has lost the points to poor selection, again."

And Toby Day adds: "Supporting Chelsea with a prediction of 2-0. I reckon Torres near the '23'."

Raj Kapoor is another backing the under-fire Rafa Benitez, and he says: "Very well said Shaz. Rafa is probably not any Chelsea fans cup of tea - but we all need to put the team first. The sentiments of the fans are affecting our players when we play at home. All Chelsea fans at the Bridge, please let's not make this about Rafa and please let's get behind our boys from the off. Come on you Blues. The team is bigger than any one individual... Three points for the Blues."

Chris Bolding reckons: "Considering Chelsea haven't really shown any form of passion at home since the start of the year I don't rally think they will start today. 3-1 to Arsenal with a Theo hat-trick would go down nicely and set our confidence sky high and bring us closer to Chelsea in the league."

Dovi Soffer says: "Chelsea fans are getting far too cocky. They are under far more pressure; interim manager and new players who need to prove themselves. Arsenal just need to play their game, keep calm and let Walcott and Cazorla run rings around Ivanovic and Cahill..."

David O'Byrne adds: "As an Arsenal fan the best news I have had all day is that Torres starts. #inwithashoutnow"

Danny Baldwin reckons: "Difference today is the strength of the bench. Chelsea have game changers. Arsenal have lesser players than those in first XI."

Chelsea fan Nigel Baldwin seems a little unhappy. He writes: "Why oh why, do we get some fans saying we should "leave off Rafa"..........Ask yourself a hypothetical question, if the entire board at Old Trafford went bonkers in a year or so time, and appointed Benitez, or Dalglish as United manager when Ferguson finally hangs his referees watch and whistle up, would people expect United's fans to accept them too?...Of course not, and I never will never accept Benitez at my club either. Mind you with strokes of genius like dropping Ba for today's game and starting with Fernando.. that cows backside, and this here banjo, will both need to be twice as big if I am going to have a hope of hitting it Torres....... then I won't have to put up with him for too much longer!"

Opta stat No.6: Chelsea have won only one of their last seven Premier League home games.

Opta stat No.5: Arsenal have lost just three of their last 19 Premier League away matches (W9 D7 L3) and are unbeaten in the last five (W2 D3 L0).

Opta stat No.4: Chelsea got fewer points from London derbies than any capital club last season (8), but have already matched that tally this season.

Opta stat No.3: Rafa Benitez's home record in games as an opposition coach against Arsene Wenger with Valencia and Liverpool is W5 D2 L3.

Opta stat No.2: The Blues scored two goals from just three shots on target in their 2-1 against Arsenal at the Emirates earlier this season.

Opta stat No.1: Arsenal have won away at Stamford Bridge more often than any other Premier League side (seven times) and scored more goals (27).

The players are out warming up in the snow at Stamford Bridge, so there's just time for a few stats from our friends at Opta.

Despite their poor home form under Rafa Benitez, Chelsea are evens favourites to complete the double over their London rivals. The Gunners are a 5/2 shot with Sky Bet and the draw is available at 13/5. Fernando Torres is preferred to Demba Ba for the Blues and he is 11/2 to score the opening goal. Fresh from signing his new long-term contract Theo Walcott is 15/2 to score first and it's 66/1 for him to bag the goal in a 1-0 visitors' success.

And Ilyas Ahmed says: "Three points for the Gunners this afternoon if the momentum at the game against Swansea will still be the same. COYG!!"

Now some backing for the Gunners, with Ant Whitehead writing: "Arsenal to win 2-1, Hazard opens scoring then Walcott will pull both of them back! As well as your classic Torres miss!"

Matt Tacey is feeling confident and adds: "I seriously believe Chelsea will demolish Arsenal today! Either 4-1 or 5-1 to the Blues! Wanted to see Ba start though!"

And fellow Blues supporter Alexander Phillips says: "I think it will be a tough game for the lads but I reckon a 2-1 win for Chelsea with Hazard and Lampard for Chelsea and Cazorla for Arsenal and that will boost us for Wednesday."

Chelsea fan Shaz Demah writes: "I'm at the Bridge now and confident of finally getting a home result. Us home fans need to lay off Rafa and we might finally start seeing some home results. 2-1 to the Blues, Torres and Ba to score and Walcott to score 1st!"

Arsenal are unchanged from Wednesday night's FA Cup third-round replay win over Swansea, but Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are both ruled out of the squad through illness.

Rafa Benitez has recalled Fernando Torres with Demba Ba back on the bench alongside John Terry, who continues his comeback from injury, while Branislav Ivanovic returns in defence.

If you want to have your say prior to this afternoon's game then drop me a line to rob.parrish@bskyb.com or via Twitter @skysportsrobp and I'll publish a selection of the best.

Arsenal substitutes: Mannone, Koscielny, Jenkinson, Santos, Frimpong, Ramsey, Arshavin.

Chelsea substitutes: Turnbull, Ferreira, Terry, Bertrand, Ake, Marin, Ba.

Arsenal starting XI: Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Diaby, Coquelin; Wilshere, Cazorla, Walcott; Giroud.

Chelsea starting XI: Cech; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Cole; Ramires, Lampard; Oscar, Mata, Hazard; Torres.

The team news is hot off the press and will be with you in the next few moments.

Good afternoon and welcome to our live and interactive text commentary on this afternoon's Premier League clash from a snowy Stamford Bridge.

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