Chelsea beat Arsenal 3-1 at Stamford Bridge to go 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League.
It was a frenetic start to the game from Chelsea and Arsenal. Both teams had corners in the first five minutes. Thibaut Courtois nearly gave Arsenal an early gift when he tried to play the ball out from his area. Alex Iwobi pounced on his mistake but the shot was just wide.
With 13 minutes played, Diego Costa’s thunderous header hit the bar. Marcos Alonso was in the box to head the rebound in at close range. Alonso fouled Hector Bellerin in the build up to his goal but it went unnoticed by the referee. In fairness to Alonso, he only had eyes for the ball but it was still a foul. Bellerin sustained an injury due to Alonso’s challenge and was unable to continue so Gabriel replaced him.
After the goal, Chelsea were in full control. They won the ball back quickly and broke with speed on the counter. Arsenal on the other hand struggled to get key players Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez into the game.
Arsenal’s best chance of the first half came in the 37th minute from a corner. Gabriel’s header from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross was tipped over by Courtois. Ozil could have equalised after he found space but he cut inside and his shot was straight at Courtois.
The Gunners had not learned from their midweek defeat against Watford and had another unimpressive first half.
Chelsea pressing Arsenal into mistakes
Chelsea are capable of holding onto one goal leads so it was Arsene Wenger’s side who had it all to do in the second half. The Blues could have increased their lead after Eden Hazard was slipped through but a crucial clearance from Laurent Koscielny but a stop to it. Once again, Chelsea were pressing high and forcing Arsenal into mistakes.
In the 53rd minute, a sublime solo run made by Eden Hazard from the half way line resulted in Chelsea’s second goal. The Belgian international beat three Arsenal players with ease and smashed it home.
It was a truely delightful goal.
Hazards sublime goal! pic.twitter.com/ls3my9VU5j
— Football Faithful (@FootyFaithful) February 4, 2017
Changes and Chances
Olivier Giroud came on for Arsenal in the 65th minute with Francis Coquelin making way. Theo Walcott going off to be replaced by Danny Welbeck in the 69th minute was Arsenal’s final change. The Gunners created very few chances in the second half. As usual, they had plenty of possession but they didn’t make it count.
Arsenal had a corner in the 77th minute and Welbeck’s low header was saved brilliantly by Courtois who stretched to tip it wide. Shkodran Mustafi had a header from the resulting corner but it was wide again. It just wasn’t Arsenal’s day.
There were seven minutes left to play when Chelsea made a double substitution. Willian and Cesc Fabregas came on for Pedro and Hazard. To add insult to injury, Petr Cech’s terrible sloppy misplaced pass was pounced on by former Arsenal player Fabregas who made it 3-0.
Kurt Zouma came on in the 87th minute for Victor Moses as Chelsea made their last change of the game.
Giroud got a consolation goal for Arsenal in stoppage time with a well placed header from a Nacho Monreal cross but it was too little, too late.
The match finished 3-1 which means Chelsea are now 12 points clear at the top. With abysmal performances like that, Arsenal might not even finish in the top four this season.
Will Arsenal finish in the Top 4? Will Ozil and Alexis stay? Plenty of questions for Arsenal fans. Got the answers? Leave a comment below!