Drogba is a diver, says humbled Wenger

Arsenal 1 Chelsea 4

The integrity of several Chelsea players has been questioned in recent days, but no one can doubt their resilience. The sense of injustice at the nature of their Champions League elimination to Barcelona last week burns deeply, and instead of ranting at a referee this time they took out their frustrations in devastating fashion.

Chelsea shrugged off the disappointment and the controversy to condemn Arsenal to their second humiliating home defeat in five days. Almost inevitably, it was Didier Drogba who was once again cast as the villain, accused of diving by Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger. Guus Hiddink showed his intention not to buckle to public opinion by selecting Drogba for his starting XI. The Chelsea striker has become public enemy No 1 for his furious blast at referee Tom Henning Ovrebo after Wednesday's 1-1 draw with Barça. Drogba has divided opinion since that tie, into those who loathe him and those who only hate him.

The Ivorian did not score, which is unusual for him against Arsenal. But he led the line with his trademark aggression and energy as Chelsea inflicted on Arsenal their heaviest home league defeat since they lost 4-1 to Ipswich in 1977. After an opening spell which Arsenal totally dominated, Chelsea took the lead on 28 minutes, and Drogba had a key role to play.

He won a free-kick, drawing a foul from Cesc Fabregas who was booked by referee Phil Dowd for moaning too much that the Chelsea man had dived. Drogba arced the free-kick to the shaved head of Chelsea's Brazilian defender Alex, who rose above a static Mikaël Silvestre to force his header in via the underside of the bar. Wenger was furious at the decision. Asked if it was a dive, he replied: "It was. We live in a league where divers are rewarded. It's not right but it's like that." Whether he is wearing flip-flops or football boots, Drogba cannot take a step without treading in some kind of controversy.

Chelsea manager Hiddink paid tribute to his side's character after a victory in which the club guaranteed at least finishing third in the Premier League. "I felt the injustice, not being in the European Cup final," he said.

"That felt like a huge injustice for everyone in the team. Then we have this reaction against Arsenal. It's been a long time since Chelsea have made such a big victory against Arsenal. That's why I'm very proud of the boys in the way they reacted, tactically and mentally." It was the first league goal conceded at home by Arsenal since 21 December last year, and triggered something of an avalanche. Nicolas Anelka, who should have scored in first-half stoppage time, doubled Chelsea's advantage six minutes before the break.

The former Arsenal striker picked the ball up in midfield and, as Samir Nasri and Silvestre left it to each other to make a challenge, he drove at the Arsenal goal. His powerful shot from 25 yards had pace and swerve, but Lukasz Fabianski in the Arsenal goal, one of three changes from the team that lost 3-1 to Manchester United in midweek, should have done better.

Chelsea again exposed the cracks in the Arsenal defence with their third shortly after the interval. The excellent Florent Malouda released an overlapping Ashley Cole, whose dangerous cross was met by Arsenal defender Kolo Touré who steered the ball into the bottom corner of the goal.

Wenger responded by bringing on Nicklas Bendtner and Emmanuel Adebayor, the latter's arrival greeted by boos from disgruntled Arsenal fans. The response was swift. Bacary Sagna's hanging cross invited a finish, which Bendtner applied with his head from close range. The combination worked again moments later, but this time Petr Cech was on hand to save.

Arsenal only had themselves to blame as they should really have been a couple of goals up inside 20 minutes. Theo Walcott gave Cole almost as torrid a time as the home support.

The Arsenal supporters jeered Drogba's every touch, but the loudest abuse was reserved for Cole who had been excellent in midweek in defusing the danger posed by Barcelona's Lionel Messi but found Walcott a far trickier proposition. Walcott had four good chances to score in the first quarter of the game, but he missed the target three times and when he did find his range he could not beat the imposing form of Cech.

With 15 minutes left Arsenal were denied a penalty when Jose Bosingwa challenged Adebayor but referee Dowd waved play on. The decision effectively ended Arsenal's brief rally as within moments Malouda fired in a fourth to mark the Blues' biggest league win at Arsenal since 1960.

Wenger remained typically positive despite the scoreline. He said: "I do not believe this was a bad performance. It was not a 4-1 game. We are very disappointed. This is now an opportunity for us to show our mental strength."

Arsenal (4-1-4-1): Fabianski; Sagna, Touré, Silvestre, Gibbs; Song (Denilson, 67); Walcott (Adebayor, 67), Fabregas, Nasri, Diaby (Bendtner, 60); Van Persie. Substitutes not used: Mannone (gk), Ramsey, Djourou, Eboué.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Bosingwa (Ivanovic, 77), Alex, Terry, A Cole; Essien, Mikel; Anelka, Lampard, Malouda (Ballack, 88); Drogba. Substitutes not used: Hilario (gk), Di Santo, Kalou, Belletti, Mancienne.

Referee: P Dowd (Staffs).

Booked: Arsenal Fabregas.

Man of the match: Malouda.

Attendance: 60,075.

News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015