Any goals scored in the latest installment in the long-running rivalry between Chelsea and Arsenal won't be coming from the players who starred for these clubs in recent meetings.
With Robin Van Persie having departed for the greener pastures of Manchester United and Didier Drogba having left West London when his contract expired after his team's Champions League triumph, each club began the season without the strikers that have long spearheaded its attack.
Despite the losses, both teams have started the campaign strong. With an attacking trio of Fernando Torres, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata leading the charrge, Chelsea sit atop the league table with four wins and a draw in its first five matches.
Perhaps more surprising given the defections fo RVP and Alex Song (to Barcelona), Arsene Wenger's squad has also begun its season without a loss. With two wins and three draws, including a 1-1 split at Manchester City, the Gunners have surprised doubters thus far.
"We got some belief against Man City," Wenger told Miguel Delaney of ESPN.com. "[The Chelsea game] is another one, it's a different one. It's at home. We have played now three away games at Stoke, Liverpool and Man City so if we do well at home against the big teams it will of course have a big impact on our chances in the league."
In recent meetings between these London clubs, the muscular menace of Drogba exploited Arsenal's congenital weaknesses in defense. With Drogba gone and the Gunners' defense much stouter early in the season than expected, how will this match turn out? Will John Terry be distracted by his looming ban? Will newcomers to the fixture like Santi Cazorla or Hazard add to its storied history?
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Chelsea 1, Arsenal 1
Chelsea 2, Arsenal 1
Chelsea 2, Arsenal 1 Giroud Miss
Chelsea remains unbeaten and opens up a (temporary?) four-point cushion atop the table. Arsenal suffers its first defeat of the season.
|@ SurrealFootball : So, Arsenal didn't win. You can't beat the system.|
|@ ESPNStatsInfo : Arsenal, 1 of 4 last unbeatens in EPL, loses. RT @PCarrESPN: Chelsea is first visiting team to win three league games at Emirates Stadium.|
Chelsea wins, 2-1, to stay atop the table. Splendid performance for Blues and a game that Arsenal will rue, Koscielny and Giroud in particular.
Tick.. tock.. Hazard fakes yet another Arsenal defender out of his socks to win a corner.
"This is his moment," urges Darke on ESPN as he turns around Cech and he fires into side netting. What a wasted opportunity.
Arsenal have time to find a second.
The Arsenal urgency seems to have been dampened as the minutes tick away. Do they have a push in them? Cazorla shoots over top-left corner from a terrific spot.
|@ JoshElliottABC : Does Gervinho even know what offside is...? #sigh #Arsenal|
In this case, he used it. The Chelsea captain deflected Koscielny's header into the post. Again, there was offside so it wouldn't have counted. Also, Mata off. Bertrand on. It's the 86th minute.
Arteta free kick is headed by Koscielny (?) into the post. So close! Oh, wait. Gervinho offside so likely much ado about nothing but that was close.
Jenkinson holds up the ball out to the right and whips a low ball through the area but no one in blue or red is home to wrangle it. Cazorla keeps it for Gunners at far left.
Giroud and Koscielny clashes heads as they go to head clear Mata's free kick. Koscielny down.
Mata wins a free kick straightaway and just outside the Arsenal penalty area. Luiz and Mata stand over the ball.
Gibbs fires high over the bar as another Arsenal foray forward fizzles. Shortly after, the Gunners give it away again easily. Chelsea happy to take the ball back and kill clock.
They play it short and then send a speculative longball into the Arsenal box. Terry rises for it but can't reach.
|@ FOXSoccerTrax : SUB Moses for Oscar (CHE)|
Cech somehow pushes aside a knuckling Giroud shot. That nearly had Arsenal level. Wow!
Chelsea counter after a spell of Arsenal pressure comes to naught. Urgency picking up for home team.
|@ Arsenal : Double substitution for Arsenal: Ramsey and Podolski are replaced by Walcott and Giroud (67) 1-2 #AFCvCFC|
Gibbs drives deep toward endine and crosses for Arsenal. Luiz pokes it out (and awfully close to an own goal) Corner kick.
Chelsea breaking with numbers but imprecise passing by Torres slows up the attack as the Gunners flood back. Attack fizzles.
Nothing comes of free kick for Arsenal. Ramsey waits under the ball too long after the first cross is turned around but it's nipped away from him. Ramsey looking dull in recent exchanges.
Jenkinson earns Arsenal a free kick just outside of area at right edge with dive that implicates Cole.
|@ kkfla737 : Great save Cech on Podolski who has had his way in this second half with Chelsea's defense.|
Ceh gets left hand to a header by Podolski to keep Chelsea in front. What a save! Arsenal keep the ball in attack through Jenkinson.
|@ piersmorgan : Terrible defending, and another clanger by Koscielny. Can we get Mertesacker on NOW, please. #Arsenal|