Goals from Cesar Azpilicueta and Juan Mata gave Jose Mourinho’s side a convincing victory at the home of their London rivals as Arsene Wenger’s search for his first win over the Portuguese continues.
After complaining about the scheduling of the tie Mourinho made no less than 10 changes from the side that defeated Manchester City on Sunday, with Gary Cahill the sole survivor. Wenger also made changes from the team he had fielded at the weekend, with Nicklas Bendtner and Ryo Miyaichi coming in for Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil.
With both teams resting a number of key figures Mourinho’s men started the better of the two, finding their passing rhythm early on as Samuel Eto’o's and Kevin De Bruyne saw efforts on goal saved.
However, Arsenal could have gone ahead when Miyaichi rounded Mark Schwarzer in the Chelsea goal after being played through by Aaron Ramsey. However the Japanese youngster was flagged offside despite Cahill keeping him in line with the last defender.
Chelsea took the lead after 25 minutes when Azpilicueta pounced on a short header by Carl Jenkinson back to his keeper, getting to the ball before Lukasz Fabianski to prod into the gaping net and notch his first goal for the Blues.
Azpilicueta nearly turned from hero to villain for Chelsea minutes later when his slack pass allowed Nacho Monreal to drive into the box and flash a low shot just past the post.
Samuel Eto’o, who scored against Arsenal for Barcelona in the 2006 Champions League final, was looking lively as the second half kicked off, flashing a curling shot past the post after working the ball onto his right foot 20 yards out.
Arsenal upped the tempo of the contest as the second half progressed, with Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Ramsey all heavily involved as they attempted to pick a way through the Chelsea backline.
However, Wenger’s men were being reduced to shots from range, with both Cazorla and Ramsey threatening the opposition target with efforts from outside the box.
Wenger introduced Ozil as he looked for a way to inject more creativity in the final third but, just as Arsenal looked like finally restoring parity, Chelsea struck the fatal blow.
The visitors doubled their lead when Mata picked up a Willian flick and curled a right-footed shot from the edge of the box into the top corner past Fabianski in the Arsenal goal.
Bendtner was finally withdrawn for Giroud, much to the home crowd’s delight and the Frenchman made an immediate impact, giving Arsenal the attacking focal point they had been lacking.
After confident dribbling by Wilshere inside the box Giroud almost found the net with one of his first touches, but under pressure from Cahill saw his shot saved at the near post.
Chelsea’s supporters thought their side had taken a 3-0 lead after 73 minutes, when Michael Essien played Ramires through to the byline. But Laurent Koscielny stopped the Brazilian’s chipped shot over Fabianski on the line.
To the home side’s credit Arsenal get going until the final whistle, with Cazorla fizzing a low drive past the post in stoppage time, as Chelsea saw out a 2-0 win in typical Mourinho style.