Chelsea 2, Arsenal 1 (Carling Cup Final, F.T.)

Though I’ve have given this one a miss had Setanta U.S. charged $20 for the privilege, as it turned out, what might be the last major cup final in Cardiff would’ve been more than worth such a tariff. Dieder Drogba (above) scored both goals for Chelsea, including an 85th minute header off a cross from Arjen Robben. Theo Walcott gave the Gunners an early lead with a terrific give-and-go collaboration with Justin Hoyte ; moments earlier, Petr Cech had prevented Arsenal from opening their account with a terrific save of shot by Julio Bapiste.

John Terry, made a surprise (for anyone who didn’t read yesterday’s papers, anyway) start after passing a late fitness test ; the Chelsea captain made an early exit after taking Abou Diaby’s boot to the face in the 66th minute. It took about 5 minutes for Terry to be carried off, which partially accounts for the 11 minutes (!) of stoppage time.

The other delays can be blamed in part on a late brawl that ensued after a John Michel Obi challenge on Arsenal’s Kolo Toure’ (still doing excellent work long after his dismissal from “The Real World”). The pair were ejected and a red card was also shown to Emmanuel Adebayor, who seemed willing to take on anybody he could find, whether or not they were wearing a blue shirt. Brian Cox and Vernon Maxwell both agree — Manny’s got to cool it in the future.

Though I hate to find myself parroting the Sky announcing team, it would be a shame it this match were remembered mostly for the ugly scenes in the final minutes (y’know, someone running a headline about Adebayor going nuclear) rather than fixating on one of the year’s more exciting matches. Chelsea have shown that Abramovich’s zillions were enough to guarantee at the very least, their bringing the 3rd most important domestic trophy back to Stamford Bridge. And for Henry-less Arsenal, this was nothing short of a coming out party for the club’s teenagers. And if that conjures the uncomfortable image of Arsene Wegner double checking the catering plans on “My Super Sweet 16”, that’s your problem, not mine.