JOHN TERRY survived the Emirates hate mob — after Roberto Di Matteo resisted the temptation to drop him.
By MATT PARKER
The Chelsea captain led his table-toppers to a 2-1 triumph over Arsenal — days after the FA found him guilty of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand.
Arsenal fans booed Terry and chanted: “You know what you are.”
And Blues boss Di Matteo revealed he considered whether Terry would be in the right frame of mind — before coming to the right decision.
Di Matteo said: “Eventually, I made the selection.
“I speak to my players all the time and obviously had a conversation with John.
“It was the right side from my choice to pick him today.
“John showed his leadership qualities and what a good defender he is for the team.”
Terry, fined £220,000 by the FA, was free to play because his four-match ban is suspended until the outcome of any appeal.
The former England captain ended the game by milking the applause and handing his boots to a young fan.
Di Matteo added: “There is always a lot of talk about the negative side of things but he does a lot of good things and gives a lot of boots away.”
Juan Mata teed up Fernando Torres’ opener and secured the win — which preserved Chelsea’s unbeaten start to the season — with a second-half free-kick.
Gervinho had pulled Arsenal level just before half-time.
Di Matteo reckons Mata is benefiting from his break earlier this month after an energy-sapping summer.
The Italian said: “Mata seems to be back in very good shape. Since he came back he has been good.
“I planned it as he played in the Euros and went straight to the Olympics.”
The only blemish for Chelsea was a second-half booking for David Luiz for diving.
It came a week after Stoke boss Tony Pulis slammed Branislav Ivanovic’s theatrics.
Di Matteo stopped short of criticising the defender but made it clear he wanted to stamp out the simulation.
He said: “He went down but I don’t think he appealed for anything. He got booked. I’m against diving and that’s not something we encourage.”
The win strengthens Chelsea’s early claims to be title contenders — but Di Matteo insists he is not yet thinking about silverware.
He said: “I am pleased with the way we have played away today because that gives the team a lot of confidence that we can play differently.
“We’ve had a good start and hopefully we can build on that.
“But we also know how much work we have to do to integrate our new players and make them understand the system that we want to play and how we play.”
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was left fuming by a defensive horror show that blew a hole in their title claims.
Laurent Koscielny was badly at fault for both goals — throwing the spotlight on the manager’s decision to drop Per Mertesacker in favour of fit-again Thomas Vermaelen.
Wenger had said back-to-back clashes with Manchester City and Chelsea would be a test of his side’s credentials.
And asked if they had failed that test, he said: “Completely, yes. We played against a good team but gave the game away.
“They had three shots on target, scored two soft goals from set-pieces and defensively we were just not at the level you have to be in a big game like that.”
But Wenger refused to acknowledge it was a mistake to pick Koscielny and drop the towering Mertesacker.
He added: “Maybe too much was made of our start, but we have to deal with that.
“That decision in defence was based on the opposition we played.
“You can say it was the wrong one maybe but if we do not play Koscielny, if we do not play Vermaelen, you will ask me the same question.
“Nobody can play all the games, it’s simple.
“I think we didn’t attack the ball, not on the first, not on the second ball.
“The difference between Chelsea and us in the air on set-pieces was obvious.
“You do not expect to concede two set-pieces, it puts us every time on the back foot.”
Arsenal’s misery was complete when Abou Diaby was ruled out for three weeks with a thigh strain.