Chelsea captain John Terry came through a hostile reception at Arsenal as the Blues consolidated their lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League with a 2-1 win Saturday.
Fernando Torres fired Chelsea ahead following some poor marking by Laurent Koscielny and Juan Mata's free kick squirmed in to secure three points for the European champions after Gervinho had equalized on the stroke of halftime.
Former England skipper Terry was earlier this week found guilty of using racist language toward Anton Ferdinand by a Football Association hearing but is awaiting the full written judgment of the independent panel before deciding whether to appeal a verdict that saw him banned for four matches and fined £220,000 ($355,000).
The 31-year-old has always protested his innocence and was found not guilty of a racially aggravated public order offense in a criminal trial during July.
Predictable chants of "you know what you are" from the Arsenal crowd greeted Terry's first touch, as did jeers for former Gunner Ashley Cole.
"Of course I had to think about what the right team for the game today was, and eventually I made the selection (of Terry)," Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo said. "I speak to my players all the time, and obviously had a conversation (about it) with John as well. 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."
The Emirates Stadium faithful had little to sing about as the match wore on.
While Chelsea came through their first real test of the new campaign, the Gunners again saw question marks raised over their defensive resilience.
Arsenal had made a lively start, with Ivory Coast forward Gervinho again deployed down the center as contract rebel Theo Walcott watched on from the bench.
However, the French midfielder's injury jinx appeared to strike again as he was soon replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Chelsea took the lead on 20 minutes with a brilliant finish from Torres. A free kick from Mata on the right was floated through the Arsenal penalty area towards the far post.
Laurent Koscielny was wrestling with Torres, but the Spaniard was still able to hook the ball back into the net.
Before Arsenal could regroup, it was almost 2-0 down.
Torres robbed Koscielny out on the left and darted into the penalty area. However, as the keeper came out and he shaped to shoot, the Spaniard tumbled, claiming his heel had been clipped by Koscielny. Referee Martin Atkinson, however, was having none of it.
Slowly Arsenal found its rhythm again.
Gervinho was picked out at the far post and headed back across goal instead of at it.
The Gunners' frustrations were starting to show as Aaron Ramsey was booked for a late tackle on Oscar in the 35th minute.
The Brazilian then also went into the notebook after another poor challenge on Mikel Arteta, who played a key role in the Gunners' equalizer after 42 minutes.
Patient build up from right back Carl Jenkinson fed the ball back to Arteta, and he slipped Oxlade-Chamberlain down the flank.
His low center across the six-yard box was collected by Gervinho, who had sidestepped Terry, with his back to goal -- and he turned to blast a shot into the roof of the net.
Arsenal started the second half brightly, with Santi Cazorla snatching at an angled drive which flew wide.
However, the Gunners were undone again in the 53rd minute.
Once more Mata's curling delivery caused panic in the Arsenal penalty area -- and a backtracking Koscielny helped the ball on with the slightest of touches into the corner past Vito Mannone's dive.
Arsenal had to regroup again, and was almost level when Cech brilliantly palmed away a looping header from Lukas Podolski.
Wenger had seen enough and made a double change after 66 minutes, bringing on Walcott for Ramsey and Olivier Giroud, who scored his first Arsenal goal in the midweek Capital One Cup win over Coventry, for Podolski.
Cech was on hand to palm away a deflected effort from Giroud as Arsenal looked for the equalizer.
Gibbs tripped Mata on the edge of the penalty area to give Chelsea another dangerous piece. This time, though, his shot went straight into the wall.
As the match entered the final 10 minutes, Arsenal continued to press for an equalizer but was frustrated by a combination of poor passing and determined defense.
Giroud had a golden chance to snatch an equalizer in stoppage time but was forced wide by Cech and could only smash his shot into the side netting.
"This victory gives the team a lot of confidence and belief we can play differently," said Di Matteo. "We have to try to improve, to change our style a bit from last season. We have had a good start and hopefully we can build on that. However, we know how much work we still have to do to integrate all of our new players and make them understand the system we want to play."
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger lamented: "We played against a good team but we gave the game away. They had three shots on target and scored two goals, from soft set pieces. Defensively we were just not at the level you have to be in a game like that, which is where we were punished today. For the rest, we have shown quality and spirit, but we have to show more personality and authority on the goals we conceded."
Terry made a point of heading over to the travelling support at the final whistle, handing his boots to a couple of young fans.
"There is always a lot of talk about the negative side of John, but he does a lot of good, positive work as well," Di Matteo said.
Information from Press Association was used in this report.