Chelsea were dominant at home while Arsenal were second best for most of the game at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea were dominant at home while Arsenal were second best for most of the game at Stamford Bridge. A high energy and high octane performance from a ruthless Chelsea side, saw them extend their lead at the top of the table to 12 points after putting three goals past the Gunners.
Oliver Giroud pulled one back in added time after the 90 minutes, but it was too little too late for Arsene Wenger’s men. Arsenal have now lost two Premier League games in a row and Chelsea have finished their most testing week in the league with four points after drawing with Liverpool and beating Arsenal.
Here are the talking points:
1) End to end stuff in the opening minutes:
In the first ten minutes, the game was quite open with both sides a bit nervy and trying to get ahead. Alex Iwobi had a chance in the 2nd minute itself after Courtois played a risky ball to his centre-back, David Luiz. Chelsea then immediately broke and Hazard won a corner.
The game ebbed and flowed quite openly as Chelsea slowly asserted themselves on the ball. The breakthrough came soon in the 12th minute after Pedro scampered down the right flank and put in a teasing ball towards the six-yard area which Diego Costa connected and rattled the crossbar. The ball was still in the air, but Marcos Alonso came flying in from left-wing back with determination to get to the ball before Hector Bellerin, and scored the opening goal with a strong header.
Chelsea went 1-0 up and it would be the end of Bellerin’s game after he was injured by Alonso’s outstretched arm. Chelsea went on to dominate the game after that.
2) Arsenal don’t take their chances and get over run in the midfield:
Arsenal were over-run in midfield by the likes of N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic. As Gary Neville said in his commentary on Sky Sports, “You’ve got to stop the opposition playing. I’m sorry, Arsenal just don’t do that. They let you play.”
It was an apt assessment of Arsenal’s midfield lacking the necessary bite needed to ruffle opponents. Chelsea were good on the ball and sprayed it around the pitch, creating chance after chance. The Blues were especially deadly on the counter attack creating many 3v2 and 4v3 situations for themselves. However, the Gunners did come back in the 37th minute, after working a corner short, Oxdale-Chamberlain played a great ball in that found Gabriel (who came on for Bellerin).
But the defender could not find the back of the net but managed to force Courtois into a brilliant save. Chelsea and Arsenal would have a few more chances before half time but none were clear-cut. There was another big chance late in added time for Mesut Ozil after he found himself in space inside the box, but the German midfielder cut back into on-rushing bodies on his left and took a tame shot at Courtois. Arsenal lacked aggression and didn’t take their chances.
Gary Neville explained how the midfield worked and said, “Someone has got to try and prevent that counter-attack. Someone has got to get to Hazard and Pedro to stop the ball. Three or four times the game could have been out of sight, but for a stray pass. Let me throw this midfield at you – Oxlade-Chamberlain, Iwobi and Ozil – against Chelsea. We talk about the pair of Kante and Matic. How can Arsenal compete to win a league with that midfield?”
Opta provides this stat at half time of the game:
2011 – Chelsea haven’t lost a home league game they’ve been winning at half-time since October 2011 (3-5 v Arsenal).
When the second half began, Chelsea began to re-assert their dominance in the game. Eden Hazard looked dangerous in the first half after a number of dribbled runs caused problems for Arsenal, but in the 53rd minute, he suddenly sprang to life.
Hazard got the ball inside his own half and turned on the after-burners. He ran, shrugging off Coquelin, showing strength and leaving the Arsenal man on the floor. He then ran all the way into the box jinked inside Koscielny and dinked it over Cech into the goal. It was magical, to say the least. Hazard had not scored for Chelsea in three games, but this goal, when it mattered the most, was worth the wait.
He delivered in a big game yet again, while Arsenal’s star players Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil were left watching in awe. That run and that goal to make it 2-0 to Chelsea was Eden Hazard at his best. It surely is a Goal of the Season contender. Take a bow, Eden Hazard, take a bow.
The ex-Chelsea goalkeeper cleared the ball straight to Fabregas who then lobbed the Czech keeper to make it 3-0 to Chelsea – just 1.25 minutes after he came on. He then had a muted celebration because of his ties with his old club and it was game-over for the Gunners there. The Arsenal players were completely demoralised after the third goal but kept attacking and finally scored against the Blues back-line, who were outstanding all game.
Monreal played a good ball in and Giroud connected to send it into goal in the 91st minute. Courtois got his hand on the ball but it still went in. Both Fabregas and Giroud scored their first goals against their opponents today.
However, it was a little too late for the Gunners. Giroud could have started this game to combat the likes of David Luiz, Gary Cahill and Azpilicueta instead of Walcott.