Football: “We know what we are, champions of Europe, we know what we are,” Chelsea’s fans sung triumphantly during this victory over Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal.
This probably wasn’t a display quite worthy of club football’s top table — and the Blues were helped by two defensive errors from opposition defender Laurent Koscielny — but the signs are there that the west Londoners are ready to mount a serious title challenge following last season’s disappointing sixth-place finish.
Roberto di Matteo’s men looked they could have gone up another gear or two as they made Arsenal look ordinary for long periods. The Stamford Bridge club now sit atop the Premier League, unbeaten, three points clear of second-placed Everton and having conceded only three goals in six matches.
All cause for cheer, but their manager is understandably wary of the modern-day habit of making lofty claims based on early season form.
“We have made a great start,” said di Matteo, whose side took the lead through Fernando Torres, then erased Gervinho’s equaliser when Koscielny nudged Juan Mata’s free kick into his own net shortly after the interval. “Hopefully we can be there at the end.”
Chelsea will hope to add to a run of three consecutive wins when they visit FC Nordsjaelland in the Champions League on Tuesday night. Arsenal, too, are in action on Wednesday — at home to Greek side Olympiakos — and they will have learned lessons in defeat.
The most crucial of which is the need to take chances. Wenger’s team had the opportunities to seize three points at Manchester City eight days ago; they took one.
Against Chelsea, Olivier Giroud, on as a 67th-minute substitute, rounded Blues keeper Petr Cech at the death, but could not sufficiently wrap his foot around the ball and he shot into the side-netting.
As with similar misses this season against Sunderland and Liverpool, the Frenchman appears to know what he wants to do, but his body simply won’t follow suit, or at least not under the time restrictions placed upon him in the Premier League.