In Pictures: Troubled Terry inspires Chelsea to victory over Arsenal
Chelsea 2 Arsenal 0
Published 08/02/2010 | 00:00
John Terry's private life may be fodder fro the tabloids at present, but on the pitch but the former England captain remains as inspirational as ever in a Chelsea shirt as the Blues put an end to Arsenal's remaining title dreams at Stamford Bridge.
Stripped of the England captaincy 48 hours earlier and the subject of more lurid headlines about his private life, Terry responded in a typically defiant manner as two first-half goals from Didier Drogba put Chelsea back on top of the Barclays Premier League.
It was perhaps inevitable that Drogba's first goal in the eighth minute arrived courtesy of a glancing header from Terry.
Taunted by Arsenal fans throughout for his alleged affair with French lingerie model Vanessa Perroncel, the former girlfriend of Terry's one-time team-mate Wayne Bridge, the Chelsea captain produced a commanding performance at the heart of the defence.
The victory restored Chelsea's two-point lead over Manchester United at the top of the table and, more significantly, increased the gap over third-placed Arsenal to nine.
The outcome was never in doubt once Chelsea's other talismanic figure had put them in front with a simple volley at the far post.
Drogba's 21st goal of the season was the perfect start for Carlo Ancelotti's side and with their confidence sufficiently rocked, Arsenal failed respond before the Ivory Coast striker added his second.
When Arsenal did manage to get past the imposing Terry, they were woefully wasteful with Andrey Arshavin the main culprit.
In the 20th minute, a delightful chip from Cesc Fabregas found the Russian unmarked inside the penalty area but he volleyed straight at Petr Cech.
Two minutes later Arsenal were handed a lesson in textbook finishing which was to ultimately leave their title dreams in tatters once more.
Chelsea thought they had put Wenger's side out of the race when they defeated the Gunners 3-0 at the Emirates last November.
But Chelsea's poor form in December, coupled with a resurgent Arsenal during the same month, all but wiped out an 11-point advantage.
However, the north London club's remaining title chances were dealt a killer blow by Drogba's 22nd goal of the season in the 22nd minute.
Frank Lampard was given the freedom of Stamford Bridge to run 30 yards before supplying the Ivory Coast striker with a simple pass.
The Arsenal defence continued to back-pedal and that was the invitation Drogba required to cut inside from the right and fire a left-foot volley beyond Manuel Almunia.
Chelsea could have increased their advantage but Ashley Cole was denied by Almunia after Lampard's incisive pass had put him clear on goal in the 31st minute.
Arsenal were a different side in the second-half but the task was just too much for them.
Chelsea defended too deep and that allowed Arsenal to press forward in numbers.
Terry was forced to play much of the second period with his thigh heavily strapped after a muscle injury but there was little chance of him deserting his post.
Theo Walcott should have done better when clean through but got caught in two minds and before he could get his shot away, Chelsea's defence cleared the danger.
Cech, who had preserved Chelsea's lead in the first half, was in outstanding form and pulled off another great save to keep out a goalbound Fabregas free-kick.
But as Arsenal overstretched themselves, Chelsea looked for a third.
Michael Ballack went close with an angled drive which flashed beyond the far post on the hour but Cech rescued Chelsea again 11 minutes from time by whipping the ball off the toes of Arsenal substitute Nicklas Bendtner.
Arsenal enjoyed plenty of possession but the final ball was poor and Chelsea, led by the unruffled Terry, were tigerish to the end.
Drogba should have completed a fine hat-trick but his 83rd minute free-kick from 20 yards cannoned back off the crossbar.
In the end, it was of little consequence, leaving Terry to enjoy a welcome moment of elation in front of his adoring fans as Chelsea climbed back to the Premier League summit.