Chelsea's Frank Lampard (C) heads the ball away from the
goal during their English Premier League match with Arsenal
at Stamford Bridge in London. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett
Chelsea enjoyed some much-needed home comfort with goals
from Juan Mata and Frank Lampard securing a 2-1 victory over
Arsenal in the Premier League.
Arsenal staged a second-half revival with Theo Walcott
halving the deficit at a snowy Stamford Bridge but Chelsea
hung on for only their second win in six home league games
since Rafa Benitez was hired as interim manager.
Victory lifted third-placed Chelsea to 45 points from 23
games, 10 behind leaders Manchester United whose game at
Tottenham Hotspur will go ahead later in north London despite
heavy snow putting the fixture in doubt.
Mata scored after six minutes after Cesar Azpilicueta's
lofted ball put him through on goal, although Arsenal were
seething at the referee's failure to award a free-kick their
way in the initial stages of the move.
Lampard made it 2-0 from the penalty spot after 16 minutes
after Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny escaped a red card for
bringing down Ramires in the area.
The midfielder's calm finish was his 195th goal for the club
and he is now just seven behind Chelsea's all-time record
goalscorer Bobby Tambling.
Walcott's superb finish after a pass from Santi Cazorla just
before the hour gave Arsenal hope and Chelsea endured a nervy
final half hour as the Gunners pressed for an equaliser.
Chelsea survived some anxious moments although at the other
end Fernando Torres and Demba Ba, who was left on the bench,
wasted chances to wrap up the points.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, whose side now face a scrap to
achieve a top-four finish, said a poor first half and some
dubious officiating had undermined his side.
"I thought Francis Coquelin was injured for the first, and
I'm not convinced at all that it was a penalty on the second
goal," Wenger told Sky Sports.
"We made some changes at halftime and came out with a
different attitude with much more initiative. We had Chelsea
on the back foot but could not get it back to 2-2."
The victory was Chelsea's first at home this year and lifted
some pressure on Benitez who was booed in midweek when
Chelsea were held 2-2 at home by Southampton.
"We have been doing well, creating chances in all our games.
In the games we didn't win we deserved to win. It was just a
matter of time until we had a performance like this," Benitez
said, who was full of praise for Torres, said.