LONDON (AFP) – Eden Hazard and Diego Costa scored as Chelsea beat Arsenal 2-0 in an incident-packed London derby on Sunday to move five points clear at the Premier League summit.
Hazard put Chelsea ahead from the penalty spot in the 27th minute and Costa sealed victory 13 minutes from time after being released by a pass from former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas.
On an eventful afternoon at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was forced off following a collision with Alexis Sanchez, while rival managers Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger clashed on the touchline.
Chelsea’s victory in a game delayed by 15 minutes due to supporter congestion prior to kick-off leaves them five points clear of defending champions Manchester City going into the international break, with Arsenal nine points off the pace following their first defeat of the campaign.
Wenger had seen his side destroyed 6-0 on Arsenal’s previous visit to Chelsea in March, but although the visitors avoided humiliation on this occasion, they did little to enhance their status as title contenders.
Both sides made one change to their starting line-ups – Cesar Azpilicueta coming in for Chelsea; Jack Wilshere for Arsenal – and the visitors also tweaked their playing system, with Mesut Ozil starting wide on the right.
Sanchez lined up on the opposite flank and was quickly involved, drilling an early sighter wide and then colliding heavily with Courtois after chasing a pass from Wilshere into the Chelsea box.
After receiving treatment Courtois continued playing, but he gave way for Petr Cech in the 24th minute, with television pictures showing blood running from his right ear.
Sanchez was also the unwitting catalyst for the set-to between the two managers.