Chelsea enjoy punishing weakened Arsenal in confident win
Chelsea came out comfortable winners of an exciting encounter at Stamford Bridge, beating Arsenal 3-1 in a game they could have scored far more in. It was a worthy revenge for the 3-0 defeat at the Emirates that may prove to be the catalyst for another Premier League title for Chelsea.
A tense first ten minutes where both sides showed intent up front gave a hint of the intense encounter that was to come. Chelsea threatened on the counter in the early stages, with Moses in particular causing the Arsenal defence problems. He was brought down by Francis Coquelin early on as he burst clear, a first indication of the lack of midfield control that was to cost Arsenal dearly through the course of the game.
Gary Cahill had a clear header from a corner after sustained Chelsea pressure and should have scored, but despite a series of missed chances there was the feeling that a goal was coming.
Pedro inititated the move that would lead to the Blues opener, finding space on the right to play a fine cross to Diego Costa in the middle. The Brazilian struck the bar with a powerful effort, and Marcos Alonso came steaming in to the send the ball into the net and Hector Bellerin, entirely accidentally, into the ground.
Scoring did not see Chelsea drop off, instead the goal rattled Arsenal, who were only able to watch for long periods of the first half the the Blues string together beautiful passages of play to repeatedly threatened Petr Cech’s goal. Eden Hazard was central to the effort, his changes of pace and clever movement causing all sorts of problems to a reshuffled Arsenal back line. Shkodran Mustafi was booked for a desperate foul on the Belgian as he tormented a shaken defense.
Arsenal threatened twice towards the end of the half, but Thibaut Courtois – who was immaculate both in shot stopping and catching crosses throughout this game – prevented the Gunners from making an impression on the scoreline.
N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic dominated the Arsenal midfield through the second half, with Arsenal unable to use half-time to change the flow of the match significantly.
Kante in particular continued his fine form from the Liverpool game, totally dominating the game from start to finish with his energy and intelligence. Performances like this are elevating his status in the history of Premier League midfielders to quite astonishing levels considering he’s been in the league just 2 years.
Hazard then provided the most memorable moment of the game, slicing through the Arsenal defence with a beautiful run and finishing calmly over Cech. A world class player at his very best today, the goal was a moment of pure Hazard excellence.
The fun didn’t end there however, and there was still time for Cesc Fabregas to score against his old club after a defensive mixup, and for Olivier Giroud to score a rather embarrassed late consolation.