Silvinho Stunner Completes Fight Back  (Sky Sports)

Chelsea 2-2 Arsenal
Hasselbaink 31, Zola 58 - Henry 76, Silvinho 85
FA Carling Premiership

Adrian Sherling reporting

Arsenal came back from two goals down for the second successive time at Stamford Bridge and almost repeated last years injury-time winner in a pulsating clash with Chelsea.

Thierry Henry gave his side hope and left-back Silvinho hammered a tremendous equaliser five minutes from time to earn the Gunners a point that they rarely looked like winning.

In keeping with recent derbies between the teams, the match was frantic almost too frantic for the players to cope with. Control was at a premium as the ball zipped around the midfield.

The Anglo-French war that was predicted never materialised, although Graeme Le Saux, making his first start in eleven months, must count himself lucky to receive only a yellow card after continuing his long-running feud with Lee Dixon. The Channel Islander went in hard, high and studs first on the veteran defender, yet somehow escaped with just a booking from referee Mike Riley.

Chelsea took the upper-hand in the midfield early on, taking advantage of the Patrick Vieira-sized hole in the middle of the Gunners line-up, with Arsenal seeming happy to play on the break, with the pace of Henry and Pires.

Despite the huge amount of skill on the Stamford Bridge pitch, the best chances of the opening period all came in the air. Gilles Grimandis flicked header flew inches the wrong side of the post, while Frank Leboeuf did the same thing at the other end.

Hasselbaink, who always had a good scoring record against the Gunners in his Leeds days, thought he had found the net with a marvellous header, but David Seaman threw himself to his left to tip the ball wide.

He didnt have to wait long to hit his second goal of the season however as he hammered Chelsea into a 31st minute lead. When Hasselbaink picked up the ball mid-way into his own half, he seemed to go too wide, yet simply moved the ball onto his right foot and unleashed a ferocious shot low inside Seamans near post.

While the home side were playing very much as a team, Arsenal were nothing more than a group of individuals. Thierry Henry looked dangerous whenever he was on the ball, tearing the Blues defence to pieces, but no one else seemed on his wavelength.

However, when Ray Parlour, recovered from his recent knee injury, found the Frenchman in the middle just before the break, his header was just too close to goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini.

The Gunners came out for the second period a different side and only Kanu will know how he failed to equalise. Having sent Lauren down the line with a delightful flick, the Nigerian received the ball back, turned his marker and simply had to tap the ball inside the far post, but somehow hit the underside of the bar.

However, just as Arsenal appeared to be fighting their way back, Chelsea doubled their lead. Hasselbaink chested a free-kick into Zolas path and the little Italian hit a delightful bouncing shot inside the far post.

Sylvain Wiltord made his debut in English football with 20 minutes remaining, but it was compatriot Henry who hauled his side back into the game. Running onto Silvinhos pass, he slid the ball inside the far post.

That meant that it was game on. Substitute Freddie Ljungberg saw his shot comfortably saved, then at the other end, Hasselbaink hit the post with a beautiful curling shot.

As the match switched quickly from end to end, Kanu went on one of his mazy runs and although Panucci tackled him, the rebound fell to Silvinho and the Brazilians curling shot curled superbly inside the near post to earn the Gunners an unlikely equaliser.

Henry could have won it late on after good work from Dennis Bergkamp, but with the goal at his mercy screwed his shot high and wide from the edge of the box.

Chelsea: Cudicini, Panucci, Babayaro, Leboeuf, Desailly, Poyet (Melchiot 71), Hasselbaink, Wise, Le Saux (Morris 80), Di Matteo, Zola (Flo 77).
Subs Not Used: Hitchcock, Gudjohnsen.
Booked: Panucci, Le Saux, Leboeuf.
Goals: Hasselbaink 31, Zola 58.

Arsenal: Seaman, Dixon (Bergkamp 70), Keown, Pires (Ljungberg 77), Lauren, Henry, Parlour (Wiltord 70), Silvinho, Grimandi, Luzhny, Kanu.
Subs Not Used: Lukic, Vernazza.
Booked: Silvinho.
Goals: Henry 76, Silvinho 86.

Att: 34,923
Ref: M Riley (Leeds).



 Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was delighted after seeing a huge gamble pay off as his side fought back from two goals down to earn a point against Chelsea.

With 20 minutes remaining when the game looked lost, Wenger introduced Sylvain Wiltord and Dennis Bergkamp, leaving striker Kanu as the only defensive midfielder. It was dangerous, but it worked perfectly.

Wenger smiled: When they went 2-0 ahead I thought it would be difficult for us but I took a gamble to bring on all the forwards from the bench. When you start playing Kanu as a defensive midfielder you think it might end up 4-0, but I thought lets go for it and take a gamble.

"If you lose 4-0 everyone blames you and if you come back to 2-2 everyone thinks you are right, but you know that when you make that decision.

"We have a great spirit within this team and we have shown that again today. This team is happy to play together and there is a great belief they can do well."

His Chelsea counterpart Gianluca Vialli admitted that his side needed to find a killer instinct. He said: "Having quality players they always try to play football and there are pros and cons in that, but sometimes you have to realise you have to be a bit ruthless.

"Sometimes you don't have to care where the ball goes as long as it is going far from your goal. These are all things we know but football is played by human beings and we all make mistakes.

"Perhaps we all remembered what happened last season and that was in the back of our minds but I think tiredness was probably more the reason than a lack of confidence.

"At least this year we got a point because the way things were going we feared the worst. We played some good football and looked very solid for 70 minutes but at the end we got a bit tired and started defending a bit too deep. Having so many quality players they created some chances and we could not handle it.

"It was too easy for them to go past us at times, we have to make it more difficult. At the moment we are not at our peak physically and against Arsenal you are going to pay heavily for that."

Blues goalscorer Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink knows that his side cannot continue to throw away points if they are to challenge for the Premiership title.

He said: "Even when you are playing against Arsenal, to play like that and not win is unbelievable. You have to defend as a team and you have to defend well and I think we have not done that. We have definitely thrown away two points.

"In the first half they had good chances, especially from corners, but we managed to score one goal. In the second half they started much better than us but we still made it 2-0.

"If you want to be a great team, you have to take the three points even if you are playing badly, and that's not what we did. It hurts a lot because three points is three points and now we have lost two points and it's just stupid how we did it. 

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