Chelsea got back to winning ways in controversial circumstances on Saturday lunchtime as they defeated nine-man Arsenal 2-0 in a fiery encounter at Stamford Bridge.
The Gunners saw Gabriel controversially sent off in the first half, while Santi Cazorla saw red 10 minutes from time as the champions took the points courtesy of Kurt Zouma’s second-half header and a late deflected strike from Eden Hazard.
It was a game which sprang into life just before the break when Diego Costa clashed with Laurent Koscielny.
Koscielny appeared to be caught in the face twice by two flailing arms from Costa, which prompted Gabriel to get involved and he was then dismissed for kicking out at the Chelsea man, whose provocation was far from subtle, and who was lucky not to see red himself.
Jose Mourinho would argue the Brazilian should have conceded a penalty by then after earlier grappling with Hazard.
It mattered not as Arsene Wenger suffered the familiar feeling of defeat to Mourinho’s Chelsea.
The bitter rivals shook hands in the moments before kick-off in a temporary truce to their feud.
Wenger recorded a first win over his bitter rival at the 14th attempt in August’s Community Shield, but evaded the Portuguese post-match.
Mourinho had been in position to congratulate his rival and he offered his hand this time and it was accepted.
Both sides had plenty to prove; Chelsea that talk of a crisis was wrong and Arsenal that they can contend for the title.
After five rounds of matches, no team had conceded more than Chelsea’s 12 goals and, fearful of Arsenal’s pace, Mourinho left out captain John Terry again.
The pace was furious, but accuracy was lacking and so were opportunities.
Arsenal would not be cowed by Chelsea and the soft underbelly of recent seasons was not in evidence.
Costa was lively and saw one drive held by Petr Cech, who returned to Stamford Bridge as an Arsenal player following 11 years’ distinguished service as a Blue.
Theo Walcott, again chosen to lead the line, saw a tame effort held by Asmir Begovic and next Cech smothered as Pedro tried to control a Cesc Fabregas pass over the top.
Zouma recovered from a slip to block Walcott as he threatened to go through one on one and Aaron Ramsey hesitated when he had a chance to finish an Arsenal counter.
Chelsea’s control on the game grew and Cech punched away a Pedro drive before Costa and Koscielny grappled, with the striker pushing the defender in the face and flinging out his arm.
He went to ground and next barged the Frenchman with his chest on standing up.
Gabriel became involved, needlessly, and saw red.
Zouma headed in Fabregas’ set-piece at the back post to give Chelsea the lead and Hazard stung the hands of Cech soon after.
Alexis Sanchez scuffed a half-chance after Chelsea allowed the ball to bounce in the area.
Walcott fired over and Hazard shot wide across goal when Chelsea responded.
Costa wanted a spot-kick for tussle with Hector Bellerin before Arsenal’s numerical disadvantage was doubled when Cazorla received a second yellow card for tripping Fabregas.
Cech could do nothing about Hazard’s shot, which deflected wickedly off Chambers for Chelsea’s second.
Chelsea v Arsenal
Gabriel Paulista became the third Gabriel to be sent off in the Premier League, after Agbonlahor and Tamas.
Cesc Fabregas has assisted a goal in two of his three PL games against former side Arsenal (both at Stamford Bridge).
15 of the 41 PL goals Arsenal have conceded since the start of last season have been headers.
No team in Premier League history has seen more players sent off than Arsenal (79, level with Everton).
Arsenal had two players sent off in a Premier League game for only the third time, and the first since 1999 (v Spurs).
Chelsea have kept six clean sheets in their last eight Premier League games against Arsenal, including the last five in a row. The Gunners have now gone 482 minutes of PL football without netting against the Blues.
Chelsea are unbeaten against Arsenal in their last eight Barclays Premier League encounters (W5 D3).
Arsene Wenger has now won only one of his 15 meetings with Jose Mourinho as managers in all competitions (D6 L8).
Eden Hazard has scored in his last three home PL meetings with Arsenal.
Petr Cech conceded twice at Stamford Bridge for the first time in the Premier League since November 2013.