football

Costa strikes as Arsenal fluff chance to control Premier League

Diego Costa scored the only goal of the game between Arsenal and Chelsea.
Diego Costa scored the only goal of the game between Arsenal and Chelsea. Reuters/Stefan Wermuth

Spain international Diego Costa was at the epicentre of the major incidents on Sunday as a struggling Chelsea side edged past an indisciplined Arsenal team.

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Arsenal squandered their opportunity to retake pole position of the English Premier League on Sunday with a 1-0 defeat at home to Chelsea.

Costa scored the west Londoners' winner in the 23rd mintue, five minutes after he was fouled by Per Mertesacker when clean through on goal. The German defender was shown a red card for the offence by referee Mark Clattenburg.

Costa had been the catalyst behind Gabriel's dismissal in September when the sides met at Stamford Bridge, goading the Brazilian defender into kicking out at him as Chelsea won 2-0.

Even though Mertesacker's punishment appeared academic, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said he felt that the blame once again lay with the Spain striker.

"He has got two players sent off this season," Wenger said. "I am accusing him of nothing, but those are the facts."

The Frenchman added: "That is part of a striker's game of course, and Costa is very good at that."

Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink said that Clattenburg had been correct to dismiss the German defender. "There was no doubt," he said. "Diego could have run straight towards the goalkeeper but was tripped. It's obvious that it was a red card without any discussion."

Arsenal remain third with 44 points after the setback, three points behind pacesetters Leicester City and behind Manchester City on goal difference.

Chelsea captain John Terry said that his side's controlled performance would give the champions belief in their quest to close the 14-point gap that separates them from the Champions League places.

"Mentally we were sound and on top," Terry told Sky Sports. "As soon as they had the man sent off they sat back, so we pressed up higher and won the ball back. We are delighted with the win."

The former England captain added: "Everybody is beating everybody else. It is a tough league and if we put a run together we have a good chance of finishing in the top four.  "We will fight until there are no points to play for."

The win took Chelsea to 13th, seven points above the drop zone and one point behind 14th placed Everton who lost 2-1 at home to Swansea City. The victory gave Francesco Guidlolin a dream start to his tenure at Swansea.

The Italian, who is managing in the Premier League for the first time in his career, was in the stadium to watch Swansea beat Watford last weekend.

A trip to Goodison Park for his first game in charge was a daunting prospect. But the hosts self-destructed with sloppy defending and poor marksmanship in front of goal.

"Six points in two matches is very important for us because the table was not good," said 60-year-old Guidolin. "I hope to have the possibility to go up in the table."

Guidolin added: "In this moment I am very happy. This is the first match in the Premier League for me. I dreamt of working in the Premier League but I didn't dream of winning the first match."

Everton boss Roberto Martinez, a former Swansea manager, rued his team's lack of precision. "The fearful aspect of our performance was a real shame," he said. "We were very slow in our performance. We created enough chances to win the game."

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