Worth the wait? Arsenal end nine match barren run against Chelsea in devastating style
Arsenal 3 Chelsea 0
Arsenal: Sanchez (11’), Walcott (14’), Ozil (40’)
Man of the match: Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)
LONDON // They have waited a long time for this.
Before Saturday’s clash at the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal had not beaten Chelsea in the Premier League in nine attempts. They had not even scored in the last six meetings, with Arsene Wenger’s men even contriving to lose twice to a team who finished 10th last season.
Both of those barren runs were ended here, though, as Arsenal recorded a convincing 3-0 triumph thanks largely to their fluid frontline.
There was little to choose between the sides in the opening stages, but an error from Gary Cahill handed the hosts the initiative in the 11th minute. Receiving possession just inside his own half, the England international dithered on the ball for too long, allowing Alexis Sanchez to steal in and collect an underhit backpass to Thibaut Courtois. Arsenal’s No 7 made no mistake from there, delightfully dinking the ball over the goalkeeper to give the hosts a lead they would not relinquish.
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If Arsenal had an opponent to thank for their opener, their sumptuous second was a demonstration of their own attacking quality. Mesut Ozil, Alex Iwobi and Hector Bellerin were all involved before Theo Walcott tucked the ball home at the back post, with Chelsea’s players forced to watch on as they were sliced open with some slick and sharp interplay around the penalty area.
Chelsea regained their composure for a brief period as the match entered its second quarter, but Arsenal were back to their scintillating best shortly after. A sublime turn saw Ozil leave N’Golo Kante for dead in an advanced position up the pitch, with the German playmaker going on to apply the finishing touch once he had got the ball back from Sanchez inside the Chelsea area.
Some suspect defending certainly contributed to the visitors’ downfall — Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic were the two biggest culprits — but Arsenal deserve plenty of plaudits for a brilliant attacking display that would have caused problems for any team in the division.
Antonio Conte’s side simply could not live with their quick combinations and constant interchanging of positions in the final third. Sanchez was again fielded as the nominal striker but regularly dropped deep and pulled wide, with Walcott always willing to make diagonal darts into the space the Chilean had vacated.
Ozil popped up in dangerous spaces throughout and Alex Iwobi turned in another accomplished performance from the left, while full-backs Bellerin and Nacho Monreal ensured attacking width was maintained whenever the front four attempted to overload the centre.
Chelsea, overawed and overwhelmed, had no answer. Even when Arsenal sat deeper in the second half, content to play a little more reactively as they sought to protect their three-goal advantage, the visitors were able to fashion only one clear-cut scoring chance of note.
The effective manner in which his players saw out the game will have pleased Wenger just as much as their first-half blitz, which completely blew away their shell-shocked opponents. A league win against Chelsea has been a long time coming for Arsenal, but this was almost worth the wait.
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Published: September 24, 2016 04:00 AM