SAY what you like about John Terry — and everybody has — had he been playing for Arsenal they surely would not have lost.
By SHAUN CUSTIS
Another week of turmoil for the Chelsea skipper saw Terry quit England and land a four-game ban and £220,000 fine for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand.
But he ended it conducting the celebrations in front of Chelsea’s fans, milking the acclaim from those who will forever view him as captain, leader, legend.
And he earned extra kudos for taking off his boots and handing them to a couple of grateful young supporters.
No matter what goes wrong in Terry’s life, he has an uncanny ability to produce on the pitch.
The Gunners supporters booed him and ex-Arsenal full-back Ashley Cole during the first half but gave up after the break, realising it was actually spurring the pair on.
And, as the home supporters streamed out of the Emirates fearing another season without silverware, there were those who grudgingly admitted they would love Terry in their defence.
Why? Because he brings order, organisation and confidence.
By contrast, whatever the hard work being done on the Gunners back four by new assistant Steve Bould, they remain an accident waiting to happen.
Two shocking errors cost them dear with French centre-back Laurent Koscielny the chief culprit. Last Sunday Koscielny was the hero with his late equaliser at Manchester City.
But here he was bullied by Fernando Torres — yes, honestly — for the opener. And after Gervinho equalised he deflected in Juan Mata’s whipped free-kick.
Manager Arsene Wenger picked Koscielny instead of big German Per Mertesacker, who had started all the previous five Premier League matches.
The boss reasoned that Koscielny would be more mobile against Torres but it was a decision he was to regret.
It seems rumours of Arsenal being potential title challengers have been greatly exaggerated.
But it is time to start taking Chelsea seriously. The Blues have been a distant third in the Premier League betting behind both Manchester clubs.
Yet this victory ensured they maintained their position at the top with five wins and a draw from their opening six games.
They have only conceded three goals in the process and Torres is, at last, finding the net on a regular basis.
Koscielny, though, should never have allowed the Spaniard to score on 20 minutes.
The Gunners used to get roughed up by Didier Drogba but you would not expect Torres to be capable of doing the same.
However, as Mata’s free-kick was floated towards the far post, Torres wrestled his way in front of his French marker, stuck out his right leg and volleyed into the corner. Torres was proving a right handful and hit the net again only to be ruled offside.
Arsenal were not helped by losing Abou Diaby to injury early on and the fact they cannot keep the midfielder fit is a real concern.
Having said that, his replacement, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, did fashion the 42nd-minute equaliser.
The Ox managed to get the ball in the box through Cole’s legs and Gervinho had time and space to turn and rifle it into the roof of the net.
Santi Cazorla then sliced badly wide for Arsenal before Mata’s 53rd-minute winner.
Thomas Vermaelen fouled Torres and Mata’s curling free-kick caused more panic.
Koscielny came across to try and cut it out but only succeeded in helping it on its way past the dive of Vito Mannone.
Chelsea could thank Petr Cech for ensuring they stayed ahead as he saved well to keep out Lukas Podolski’s header.
And Cech also re-adjusted to claw away sub Olivier Giroud’s strike which deflected off the inside of David Luiz’s leg.
Even then Giroud could have rescued a point for Arsenal at the death when he ran on to a lovely ball from Oxlade- Chamberlain.
It would be fair to say the home crowd were not banking on the Frenchman.
He tried to go round Cech but, with the angle narrowing, his shot was turned into the side-netting by the keeper.
Robin van Persie has gone and we cannot keep harping on about it.
But it is impossible to ignore the fact that there are some chances you just know the Dutchman would have scored.
Arsenal: Mannone,Jenkinson,Koscielny,Vermaelen,Gibbs, Diaby (Oxlade-Chamberlain 17),Arteta,Ramsey (Walcott 66), Cazorla,Podolski (Giroud 66),Gervinho. Subs Not Used: Martinez,Mertesacker,Andre Santos,Djourou. Booked: Ramsey,Vermaelen. Goals: Gervinho 42.
Chelsea: Cech,Ivanovic,Luiz (Cahill 81),Terry,Cole,Mikel, Ramires,Oscar (Moses 73),Hazard,Mata (Bertrand 84),Torres. Subs Not Used: Turnbull,Romeu,Lampard,Azpilicueta. Booked: Oscar,Luiz,Ramires. Goals: Torres 20,Mata 53.