FULL TIME: Chelsea 6-0 Arsenal

A full 83 minutes after this game was over, the game is over. Chelsea were stunning today, and we shouldn't let the brouhaha over the penalty and mistaken red card obscure the fact. They go seven clear of today's "opponents" in third, and Liverpool in second. As for Arsenal... well, let's not riff on their pain. It's a horror show for Arsene Wenger in his 1,000th match in charge of a club he's served with distinction. At least one person's celebrations haven't been spoilt by events reported in this MBM: "Anna says thanks for all the birthday wishes," writes Simon McMahon. "She still wants a pony though. I've told her that if she's a good girl and can wait until the summer, I'll see if I can get her the Arsenal manager's job. Cos she likes donkeys too."

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90 min +1: There will be two added minutes. Rosicky hammers a shot straight at Cech. Jose Mourinho disappears down the tunnel before the final whistle. He gets pelters for this sort of thing, but today it might not be so bad. By doing this, he's ensured Wenger doesn't have to suffer the embarrassment of a handshake.

90 min: "There's only one team in London," holler the home fans. There's only one London team left in the title race, you'd have thought, after these six hammer blows. A three-horse race, if you will. "Mac Millings' missing 11th player (85 min) could be 'Gibbs away penalties'," suggests Brian Rafferty, "but that would just be unfair."

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88 min: Ivanovic clatters Cazorla to the floor with the shoulder charge of a hoodlum. The free kick, by Arteta from a dangerous position near the left-hand corner flag, is an appalling waste of time. Arsenal won't even be getting a bitter consolation. "I agree with with Charles Morgan (76 min)," replies David Johnston-Raw. "In the mane it's been an un-bridled success for Jose. Arsenal's only hope would appear to play some hoofball, hoping Giroud can get the bit between his teeth."

85 min: If this scoreline stays the same, it's Chelsea's biggest ever win over Arsenal. "On such a special occasion, I thought I'd throw together a Wenger Tribute XI, celebrating the great man's 1,000 games in charge," writes Mac Millings. "Half way through, the game started, and the eleven took a bit of a turn ...

  • Wojciech Szczisnae getting any better
  • Mathieu Flamini Happy Returns
  • Bon Anniversaaron Ramsey
  • Gus for Caesar jolly good fellow
  • Per Mertesanachronism
  • A Kick in the Emmanuel Peteeth
  • Nadir Nasri
  • Nicklas Bendtner
  • Slapstick Vieira
  • Olivier Girooh, dearie me, this isn't going to plan, is it?

"Yep, only X in the XI. I thought it appropriate."

84 min: Schurrle wheechs a low shot inches wide of goal from a position down the right channel. Inches away from a carbon copy of his seventh-minute strike.

83 min: Salah, to the right of the D, attempts a curler into the top left. It finds the top-left corner of the Matthew Harding Stand.

81 min: Ivanovic fires a low cross into the Arsenal box from the right. It's straight down Szczesny's throat, and just as well too, because Torres was lurking. "The ref should credit one of the Chelsea goals to the wrong player," suggests Michael Harker. "You know, even things up a bit."

79 min: I wonder what Wigan Athletic make of this?

77 min: Cazorla, poor determined Cazorla, has a sniff down the inside-left channel, but Cahill slides in before he can reach the ball and take a consolation whack at goal.

76 min: Poor old Arsene Wenger, who is sitting on the bench, arms crossed, hands tightly tucked under his armpits. "Someone should remind David Johnston-Raw (59 mins) that the game's not over yet," writes Charles Morgan. "Don't go putting the cart before the horse."

74 min: Arsenal are currently 1,000-1 to win this game. Which seems a bit tight to me. Bookmakers never got rich by giving away free money, I guess.

73 min: Torres still hasn't scored, mind.

GOAL!!! Chelsea 6-0 Arsenal (Salah 70)

Arsenal may want to go home, but their back line probably shouldn't have buggered off yet. Salah bends his run just inside the Arsenal half, and scampers after a Luiz rake down the left channel. He's free on goal, and slaps confidently into the bottom right. This is a rout. This, let's remember, is Arsene Wenger's 1,000th game in charge of Arsenal. His worst defeat is that 8-2 at Manchester United. He's not ever lost by seven, though. Twenty minutes to go ...

69 min: Luiz takes a belt from distance. Szczesny gathers the low shot at the second attempt, but only just, with Torres sniffing around. Arsenal really do need to watch themselves here.

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67 min: Oscar, his work done, departs for Salah.

GOAL!!! Chelsea 5-0 Arsenal (Oscar 66)

Oscar, to the left of the D, whips a shot towards the bottom right. Szczesny should deal with it, but only succeeds in weakly palming the ball into the net. Oxlade-Chamberlain would have saved that.

65 min: With Cech meandering along the front edge of his penalty box, Giroud attempts to score from the halfway line. He doesn't connect properly, but hats off to the striker for chutzpah on a difficult day for Arsenal.

64 min: Regarding Chelsea's run-in, they do, of course, still have to go to Anfield. Much depends on whether Liverpool can stay on their tail until the end of April, but if Brendan Rodgers side manage that, and Chelsea come out of the blocks like they've done today, that could be quite a shoot-out.

62 min: Torres dribbles down the right, then checks and cuts back for Oscar, who tries to sidefoot home from the edge of the box. Szczesny tips over, but Chelsea don't get the corner. Given what's happened here, Arsenal probably deserve that at least.

60 min: Cazorla breaks into the area down the inside left, then drags a low shot across Cech and just a couple of inches wide right of the Oxlade-Chamberlain Post. So unlucky, and so close to a consolation goal for the tattered, battered visitors.

59 min: Schurrle threatens to break down the right, but he's a touch offside. He feigns annoyance at the decision, but it's all a bit pantomime, he knows as well as anyone that all the crucial acts have already been played out this afternoon. "I'd like to add my birthday wishes to Anna," writes David Johnston-Raw. "Sadly the only pony round here is the way Arsenal are playing. Arsene could be saddled with a very heavy defeat today. At least the game looks more stable now."

57 min: Free kick for Arsenal, 30 yards out, just to the right of the target. Arteta chips forward aimlessly. This game is drifting along at the moment.

54 min: A fairly subdued atmosphere at Stamford Bridge right now. The Arsenal fans ... well you can understand that. Chelsea supporters, this match done and dusted long ago, will be thinking about a fixture list that doesn't have very many difficult games left on it.

52 min: Rosicky is booked for flipping Azpilicueta into the air like a fried egg. No arguments about that particular decision, huh.

50 min: Fair play to Wenger, who is sitting on the bench with his feet up, kidding on he doesn't care, an insouciant look on his phizog. He might, actually, be past caring. His players have let him down in a big match yet again. "Big props to Simon McMahon, for brilliantly playing the long game with his MBM contributions," writes Matt Dony, who in fairness is not that far behind. "Every Monday night spent being witty about Fulham vs Stoke, every early-morning batting collapse bemoaned, every Sergio Garcia breakdown monitored, all culminating in this moment. Saving himself the outlay on a pony, and the subsequent running costs incurred. Time well spent, and great to see a plan coming together so perfectly. Simon, I bow to you."

47 min: A brisk start to the half for Chelsea, as you'd expect. First Torres attempts to batter one into the bottom right from close range, having worked his way down the flank, then Luiz has a go. Neither can force home. Arsenal want this half over already.

And we're off again! A couple of changes for Arsenal, with Jenkinson and Flamini coming on for Koscielny and, yes, Oxlade-Chamberlain. "On a point of pedantry, can a player be adjudged to have prevented a goalscoring opportunity by handball if a shot is going wide (as Hazard's shot was)?" asks Jeleznyi O'Connor. "Throw in the mistaken identity and it's a cock-up within a cock-up." Technically, yes, though the margins were so slight, I'm not sure the referee can be blamed for that part of the incident. In real time, it looked like an on-target shot was saved, and seeing the intent was there, it's hardly a huge karmic injustice. Had it been the correct player, of course.

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HALF-TIME ENTERTAINMENT:

INTRODUCING A NEW HALF-TIME FEATURE … TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS! (No1 in a series of 1) "It's my daughter Anna's birthday today," writes Simon McMahon. "She wants a pony, but I think getting a mention on the MBM is worth more. I'm right, aren't I? That's Anna McMahon, 12. Help me out here. Please." It's the least we can do, Simon, seeing your MBM output is second only to that of Gary Naylor. You've contributed so many words, the Guardian is probably legally obliged by now to give you full employment rights. But they're not going to do that, so this will have to do instead ...

Happy birthday, Anna! Have a lovely day! Your daddy's worked his fingers to the bone for this, give the old man a hug! And perhaps this fellow a sugarcube ...

HALF TIME: Chelsea 4, Arsenal 0, Sanity -347.

Rosicky gets a shot on target for Arsenal, cutting in from the right, but it's straight at Cech and met by both the keeper and some ironic cheers. And that's that for the opening period. There are some halves of football you can rationalise, and others you can't. Never mind the Gibbs-Ox penalty farce, the big question is: what on earth is Wenger telling his team ahead of these big matches?

45 min: Cazorla really is trying his best to keep Arsenal afloat. He flicks the ball to Giroud down the left. The striker hammers a low shot into the side netting. His early chance seems so very long ago now.

44 min: Matic attempts to curl one into the top-left corner from 25 yards, but the ball balloons off an Arsenal back, taking the sting out of the shot. "Please don't bring Spurs into this (18 mins)," pleads James Chambers. "Us Spurs fans need to enjoy it while we can."

GOAL!!! Chelsea 4-0 Arsenal (Oscar 42)

Schurrle flicks a lovely ball down the right for Torres, who is able to romp clear into acres of space along the wing. With Oscar screaming for the ball in the middle, Torres looks to have held on too long, but he eventually fires a low cross towards the near post, where Oscar, rushing in, roofs home. This is a humiliation already, and we're not even at half time.

41 min: After Torres and Schurrle juggle the ball awhile on the right-hand corner of the Arsenal box, Hazard lashes a wild shot high into the Shed End. "This is all Özil's fault, right?" asks Tracy Mohr.

38 min: Penalty farce aside, this is some response by Chelsea to that bonkers defeat at Aston Villa, isn't it? I wonder if all their remaining matches this season are going to spiral out of control in the grand fashion? We're two on the spin already.

36 min: There's a party atmosphere in Stamford Bridge all right, but not exactly the sort Arsenal and Wenger were hoping for. Cazorla is doing his level best to raise the mood, dropping a shoulder to make a little space to the left of the Chelsea D, but Azpilicueta quickly closes him down before he can get a shot away.

33 min: Cazorla tries to make something happen down the Arsenal left, but this already looks futile. Collectively, Arsenal's body language is of abject defeat, all slumped shoulders and backs turned, players not really wanting to receive the ball. "Some respect is due to Wenger on this anniversary day," suggests Charles Antaki. "Can you ask the Guardian compositors to set the rest of this column in something appropriate, maybe black-letter Gothic?"

30 min: A low Schurrle screamer is heading for the bottom left. It's deflected, too, which doesn't help Szczesny, but the keeper manages to fingertip it an inch or so wide of the left-hand post. Nothing comes of the corner, but Arsenal are really struggling here.

28 min: This penalty incident has now broken re-run records previously set by the Zapruder film. Gibbs was standing fairly close to Oxlade-Chamberlain when the dreadful deed was done, by the looks of it. Which doesn't excuse the mistake, but kind of explains it. "Gibbs should protest by coming back out and warming up in Walcott's shirt," quips Waqas Mir.

25 min: Arsenal can't get hold of the ball. Chelsea are quite content to stroke it around the middle right now. All of this penalty nonsense has obscured the fact that Arsenal have yet to turn up.

23 min: Wenger makes a switch, hooking Podolski and shoring things up with the addition of Vermaelen.

22 min: Slow-mo pictures clearly show Oxlade-Chamberlain admitting to the referee that he handled the ball, but the referee had none of it. The shot wasn't going in, either. Not quite. You'll not be hearing the last of this, I'll be bound. On the touchline, Arsene Wenger looks crestfallen, as well he might. How to ruin a celebration, eh?

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18 min: So far, away to their title rivals, Arsenal are 14-4 down in 198 minutes of football. Arsenal want to have a long, hard look at themselves. As, come to think of it, do Spurs.

GOAL!!! Chelsea 3-0 Arsenal (Hazard pen 17)

Hazard waits for Szczesny to committ himself, which he does, to the right. Hazard then belts the ball down the middle. This is a farce!

15 min: THIS IS A TOTAL SHAMBLES! PENALTY TO CHELSEA! AND A RED CARD FOR GIBBS! Hazard is in space, in the left-hand portion of the Arsenal box. He lays off to Torres, who faffs about. Eventually the ball's given back to Hazard, who looks to curl the ball into the bottom right! Oxlade-Chamberlain, at full stretch, tips the ball round the post. It's a penalty, and he's got to walk. But the referee sends off Gibbs instead! Dear oh dear! Arsenal are in total disarray, and the referee's caught the bug too!

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13 min: A long hoick down the left channel, and Schurrle is so nearly free in the Arsenal area. He can't quite meet the ball with a telescopic leg.

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11 min: Arsenal look visibly shocked, much as you'd expect. To a man, they're rickety and nervous in possession. Oxlade-Chamberlain looks to steady the ship with a romp down the inside-right channel, but with Chelsea momentarily on the back foot, he's more than happy to buy a foul off Luiz, hoping for nothing more than calming the stadium down a bit by stopping the play for a while. Good luck with that.

9 min: It's not all good news for Chelsea. Eto'o is down on the floor, his legs stretched out, his fingers doing that roly-poly sub-me mime. His hamstring has gone. He gets up, limps off, and is replaced by Fernando Torres.

GOAL!!! Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal (Schurrle 7)

♫♭ Happy 1,000th matchday to yooooo-ooooou! ♯♪ Schurrle latches onto a Cahill pass, rolled down the right wing. He's got Eto'o in attendance, but doesn't need him. Schurrle romps towards the box, then arrows a low shot into the bottom left-hand corner. Eto'o's corner. What a start by Chelsea! This is an Anfieldian start by Arsenal, who are all over the shop!

GOAL!!! Chelsea 1-0 Arsenal (Eto'o 5)

Schurrle makes good towards the Arsenal area, then slides the ball to his right for Eto'o. The Cameroonian cuts in from the wing, enters the area, takes a touch, and curls a delightful finish across Szczesny and into the bottom left! Happy 1,000th game, Arsene!

4 min: Well, this is end to end all right! First Chelsea break through the Arsenal back line, but Schurrle is a yard offside. Then Giroud is free on the edge of the Chelsea area, to the left of the D, but his low shot towards the bottom right is parried by Cech. And then Chelsea fly up the other end, where ...

3 min: Koscielny gives the ball away, allowing Schurrle to curl a delicious ball into the area from the right. Eto'o is about to latch onto the pass, but Szczesny, busy early on, is quickly off his line to clear.

2 min: Arsenal push Chelsea back into their own half without particularly doing much with the ball. "Mourinho will do Whatever It Takes (intentional capitalistaion)," begins Rob Moline. "Wenger is a purist, beautiful football on a self-sustaining basis. Mourinho teams will always win against Wenger teams. Mourinho teams will always win trophies; Wenger teams will always struggle in the big games. Different people, different outlooks, different teams; and while Mourinho will always win I still admire Wenger and enjoy watching his team play. But if the Arsenal suits want trophies, they've got to get rid of him." Oh Rob! Working a man over at his own party! You haven't put any special liquids in the punch, have you?

1 min: A few seconds gone, and Szczesny is forced to sell Oscar one hell of a dummy, not a million miles from his own goal-line! In fairness to the keeper, he executes it marvellously, and will be well within his rights to deliver his defenders a massive bollocking for dropping him in it like that.

And we're off! It's a lovely sunny day in west London. And a blistering atmosphere raining down from the stands, too. Much as you'd expect in a derby as big as this. And one at the business end of the title race, too! A fairly friendly handshake between the two managers on the touchline, and then Chelsea get the game going, kicking towards the Shed End in the first half.

The teams are out! Chelsea are decked out in their beloved blue ...

... while Arsenal are dressed in those famous old red-and-white shirts.

Handshakes, a wee spot of music, and we'll be off in a minute!

Arsène's 1,000th XI (and other news)

Chelsea call up David Luiz, Andre Schurrle and Nemanja Matic: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Matic, Schurrle, Oscar, Hazard, Eto'o.
Subs: Lampard, Torres, Mikel, Salah, Ba, Schwarzer, Kalas.

Arsenal - with Wenger looking for a first victory over Jose Mourinho's Chelsea at the 11th attempt - name an unchanged side from the north London derby: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rosicky, Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud.
Subs: Vermaelen, Flamini, Fabianski, Sanogo, Jenkinson, Kallstrom, Gnabry.

Referee: Andre Marriner (W Midlands)

Happy 1,000th matchday to Arsène Wenger, then. ♫♭ Happy matchday to yooooo-ooooou! ♯♪ So here's an interesting thing, seeing we're in the business of marking time. Exactly ten years ago, give or take a couple of days, Chelsea hosted Arsenal in the first leg of the quarter-finals of the Champions League. The game ended 1-1, Robert Pires cancelling out Eidur Gudjohnsen's opener, and with Marcel Desailly receiving his marching orders towards the end of the match, most folk had the tie marked down as advantage Arsenal. But a couple of weeks later, Wayne Bridge shocked Wenger's men at Highbury with a late sucker punch, and it was Claudio Ranieri's side who advanced to the semis.

Arsenal were, of course, busy completing an Invincible league campaign that season. But since then, all they've won is a single FA Cup, a mere 12 months after. Jose Mourinho chose to reference this fact, not particularly obliquely it has to be said, when asked to pay tribute to Wenger ahead of this game: "I admire him and I admire Arsenal, because it's not possible to have 1,000 matches unless the club is also a fantastic club in the way they support the manager, especially in the bad moments and especially when the bad moments were quite a lot." You wouldn't necessarily invite him to your birthday party / wedding / leaving do, would you?

Annoying thing for Wenger and Arsenal is, he's kind of got a point. The aforementioned game between these two clubs can be seen as something of a watershed, a Bridge (sorry) between the two Wenger eras: the Trophy Years, and the Nearly Years. The stats are symbolic. Before the March/April 2004 Champions League tie, Wenger had faced Chelsea 23 times. Having won his first encounter with them 3-0, at Stamford Bridge, and then the following three too, his results over that entire period would end up reading W15, D6, L2. Post Bridge - and perhaps more significantly after Mourinho arrived on these shores to shake Chelsea up - Arsenal's record against their capital rivals has been W4, D6, L13.

Ignore the trend over the last decade, though. Perhaps more pertinently, Arsenal haven't beaten Chelsea since an astonishing 5-3 win here in October 2011, Robin van Persie the hat-trick hero. Chelsea did the double over Arsenal last season, beat them at the Emirates in the League Cup, and held them to a bore draw there just before Christmas. Arsenal need to sort this out, because defeat here today would prove a significant blow with regards to this year's title race, in which Chelsea already hold the advantage.

No wonder Mourinho's so eager to point out Wenger's latter-day "bad moments". Or maybe he's doing it just to irritate, for nothing more than kicks. Who knows. Do Arsenal have the ability to respond? It's in their, eh, arsenal, though their record in the big games of late could be better. Both teams will be desperate for victory, so this could be a classic.

Anyway, two of the top four teams in the country, and the top two in London, do battle on the Fulham Broadway at: 12.45pm. It's on!