Chelsea, Arsenal leave it late for vital wins

Chelsea snatched a 2-1 victory at Blackburn Rovers with a late Branislav Ivanovic goal and Alex Song’s 88th-minute header secured a 1-0 home win for Arsenal over West Ham United in the Premier League on Saturday.

While the London duo were celebrating, there was a second successive defeat for Manchester City as they followed up last week’s 3-0 loss to Arsenal by going down 2-1 at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Everton beat Stoke City 1-0 with Aiyegbeni Yakubu’s first goal of the season and Fulham defeated Wigan Athletic 2-0 with two goals for Clint Dempsey.

Chelsea lead the table with 25 points from 10 games, five ahead of Arsenal and eight clear of City and Manchester United, who were hosting Tottenham Hotspur later on Saturday.

Games a quarter of the way into the season against mid-table opposition can often decide the destiny of the title and three of the contenders may come to look back on October 30 as a key date.

Blackburn were well on top of a lacklustre Chelsea in the early stages and, after Petr Cech had made two good saves, took a deserved lead through Benjani Mwaruwari after 21 minutes.

Chelsea replied in a rare attack when Didier Drogba cushioned a header into the path of Nicolas Anelka who levelled six minutes before halftime.

Chelsea, held 1-1 by Blackburn last season, awoke from their torpor after the break but struggled to create chances until Yuri Zhirkov’s pinpoint cross was headed home by Serbian defender Ivanovic, who was about to be substituted.

Dominated possession
Arsenal dominated possession at the Emirates but after substitute Theo Walcott’s shot rebounded from a post into the arms of goalkeeper Rob Green they must have thought their luck was out.

With two minutes to go, however, Gael Clichy crossed for Song to nod in his third goal in a week.

“Song is amazing, he has added something to his game—he came as a centre back, becomes a defensive midfielder and now he’s playing like a striker,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told reporters.

“It was a battle and our side we needed to be patient, intelligent while their keeper, as usual, had a great game against us.”

Manchester City were all over Wolves initially but had only a 23rd-minute Emmanuel Adebayor penalty to show for their dominance and they were punished for their profligacy when Nenad Milijas blasted in from the edge of the box seven minutes later.

Poor City defending allowed midfielder David Edwards to force Wolves 2-1 up after 57 minutes and in a frantic last 30 minutes it was the Midlands side who came closest to further goals.

City manager Roberto Mancini was perplexed by the turnaround.

“We played very well for the first 15 minutes, some fantastic football, but after that I don’t know why we finished playing football,” he said.

“It’s important for me to understand why this happened today. At the moment I don’t understand it—I have to watch it.

“Maybe because we played well in the first 15 minutes we thought it was an easy game but it does not exist and in the end Wolves deserved to win the game.” - Reuters


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