I've lost count of the number of incidents and story-lines that have come out of Chelsea's 2-0 derby win over Arsenal, but there's yet one more that we need to talk about: the one that occurred first, before the match even started and caused kick-off to be delayed 15 minutes.
Initial reports, at least the ones relayed by Sky and NBC, claimed that Arsenal fans outside the ground had been letting off flares, in response to which Chelsea closed the away gates and refused to let any more Gunners fans in. These reports were put in doubt by the fact that no such footage surfaced anytime after the initial reports. One would think if there was fire and smoke outside the stadium, some camera somewhere would've picked it up.
Later reports, including ones now attached to news that the FA have launched an investigation into the incident, claim that Arsenal fans inside the stadium were letting off smoke bombs (not flares) -- though in terms of regulations and potential punishments, there is no difference between the two different types of fireworks. The decision to close the gates and not let any more trouble-makers in now also makes more sense.
Arsenal fans on the concourse at Stamford Bridge today before #cfc game #afc https://t.co/Zx2TzTLq6A— Terrace Life (@TerraceLife_) October 5, 2014
Arsenal fans in the concourse at Stamford Bridge today. #AFC pic.twitter.com/JaggHzRdZm— Football Away Days (@awaydays_) October 5, 2014
Since the incident occurred in the away end, the majority of the blame and any potential punishment should fall onto Arsenal and Arsenal fans, however, much like the case with Galatasaray fans and their flares at the Emirates midweek, the fact that the smoke bombs were let off inside Stamford Bridge, past stadium security, might place part of the responsibility on Chelsea as well. We shall have to wait and see...