Lucky breaks help Chelsea beat Arsenal

Hernan Crespo scored the match-winner deep into injury time at Wigan in Chelsea's opening match.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:48 IST
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Hernan Crespo scored the match-winner deep into injury time at Wigan in Chelsea's opening match. Didier Drogba scrambled to score the only goal against Arsenal off his leg in the second. It's easy to see the Premier League title staying at Chelsea. The team isn't playing well but has started with two 1-0 victories, including one over one of its biggest rival. Lucky shot Crespo's 25-meter winner came with promoted Wigan trying to hold on for a deserved 0-0 draw and Jose Mourinho furious that his team couldn't outplay a team that had never been in the top flight before. Seventeen minutes from the end of Sunday's game against the Gunners, Drogba was struggling to control Frank Lampard's pass in front of goal when the ball struck his shin and rolled passed Arsenal's startled goalkeeper Jens Lehmann, who was waiting for the shot. "The goal was a lucky one," Mourinho said as he collected another three points toward what the bookmakers are convinced will be a second league title in a row. Big result While Mourinho wasn't ecstatic about the performance, he knew the result was a big one in the context of Chelsea's results last season, when they finished 12 points ahead of the Gunners. "It's three points for the winner and three points that the loser doesn't get and of course Arsenal is involved in the fight for the championship," Mourinho said. "If you look at last season, we couldn't beat them at home so we have two more points for the same matches. "We have to play better than what we did but it's good to win. The season is very similar to last season when we beat Manchester United (1-0) and weren't outstanding. We know we have to improve but the spirit is here and we keep defending well." Three more points should arrive on Wednesday when the Blues host West Bromwich Albion, which avoided relegation on the final day of last season. Qaulity lineup The Baggies have collected a draw and a win so far but don't have anything like the quality that Mourinho can field no matter how he rotates his lineup. England midfielder Joe Cole should be back to start and Mourinho explained he was left out of the lineup against Arsenal because he wasn't allowed to have more than five players on the bench. He decided to start with Arjen Robben and Damien Duff, with Shaun Wright-Phillips on the bench. That meant no room for Cole. "If you can get me seven subs instead of five, like any other country in the world, I would be jumping (for joy)," Mourinho said. "If today we were in Spain, Italy, Germany, Portugal, I would have Joe Cole on the bench. But only five subs." Carvalho protests Mourinho's policy to rotate his lineup led to a protest from Portugal defender Ricardo Carvalho, who has not kicked a ball for the club in either Premier League game so far. The Chelsea manager even mentioned it in his program notes for the Arsenal game. "One of the many reasons why Chelsea were champions last season was because everybody thought about Chelsea and nobody had selfish feelings," Mourinho wrote. "When after the first Premiership game this season - not after 10 or 15 or 20 games - when Ricardo doesn't respect the essence of the group, then he needs to learn it. Maybe he understands now." (AP)