Chelsea have made a gigantic step forward in their Premier League title race thanks to the inspiring 3-1 over Arsenal.
The clash at Stamford Bridge ended up being another display of consistency and strength of character from Conte’s men, whereas Arsenal’s struggles continued much to the disappointment of suspended Arsene Wenger.
Have a read through our full match report:
Team News & Form Guide
Premier League leaders Chelsea headed into the Arsenal game keen to make amends for the 3-0 defeat in the reverse fixture at the Emirates and to open a 12-point lead in front of Tottenham at the top of the table. The Blues have since that September slump lost only two of their last 20 games in all competitions, winning as many as seventeen.
Arsenal’s title hopes were put to bed after the 2-1 defeat to Watford last time out, which marked an end to seven-match unbeaten run for Arsene Wenger’s men. The Frenchman is forced to watch his men from the stands due to his touchline ban and such a development came as a huge blow to his team’s performances.
Unlike the visiting side which arrived to Stamford Bridge without injured Santi Cazorla, Mathieu Debuchy, Mohamed Elneny, Aaron Ramsey and suspended Granit Xhaka, Antonio Conte had no selection issues and was able to field his strongest side available.
Despite the initial on-pitch dominance displayed by the home side, the first half ended with evenly distributed possession. The two sides were quite even in goal attempts as well with Chelsea making six of those compared to Arsenal’s five.
Still, it was Chelsea who headed into the tunnel with their foot in front thanks to the only goal in the 45 minutes scored by Marcos Alonso.
The Blues went up after only 13 minutes in the game when Chelsea defender dominated Hector Bellerin in the air to head home in an empty net. Alonso’s effort knocked out the Arsenal star who had to be taken off and hospitalized after a clash with Alonso’s elbow.
It all happened rather quick in the box and Alonso’s challenge did not look too serious at first, but a closer look revealed the true magnitude of the punch which left Bellerin blacked out on the ground.
Chelsea did take a deserved lead however as they looked more dangerous side for most of the game, but Arsenal managed to get back on their feet and be a better rival in the closing ten minutes. The Gunners enjoyed best chances towards the end of the first half as Gabriel fired a header straight into Courtois while unmarked in the area, whereas Mesut Ozil also had a chance of his own when left unmarked in the box towards the end of the half.
The German should have been quicker with his decision-making as he left plenty of time for Chelsea defenders to regroup and neutralize the threat.
Things went from bad to worse in the second half for Arsenal, who ended up leaving the Stamford Bridge with another two goals in the back of the net.
A truly dismal performance from the North London club was summed up less than ten minutes inside the second half when Eden Hazard took the ball on his own half and took on Francis Coquelin, sending his embarrassingly out of the game before continuing his fantastic run all the way into Arsenal box to send the ball past helpless Cech. Eden Hazard’s run ended up exposing all of the defensive deficiencies from Arsene Wenger’s side as Chelsea went flying towards another win in the Premier League.
Arsenal threw all of their cards in the attack as Danny Welbeck and Olivier Giroud were sent in and their introduction did bring an improvement in Arsenal’s play to be honest. Welbeck recorded a fantastic header which initiated a stunning save from Thibaut Courtois to deny the Arsenal striker whereas it was Olivier Giroud who scored the consolation goal for Arsenal.
The Frenchman’s header from near the penalty area came five minutes after Chelsea scored their third goal however.
Symbolism or karma, but it was former Arsenal man Cesk Fabregas who used an error from former Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech to put the ball in and wrap up the victory for exhilarated Antonio Conte.
Chelsea were compact and strong, organized in defense and deadly in attack once again, whereas Arsenal failed to exert any proper pressure on the Premier League title chargers.
- Chelsea had 13 goals attempts to Arsenal’s 8
- Five Chelsea’s shots went off target whereas Arsenal had only two
- The Blues recorded their tenth straight home victory in all competitions
- Chelsea are 12 points clear of Tottenham in second
- Arsenal end up losing their fourth out of nine Premier League matches
CHELSEA: Courtois 7 – Azpilicueta 7, Luiz 7, Cahill 7 – Moses 7 (Zouma 6), Kante 8, Matic 7.5, Alonso 7.5 – Pedro 7 (Willian 6), Costa 6, Hazard 7.5 (Fabregas 7)
Unused Subs: Batshuayi, Begovic, Chalobah, Terry.
ARSENAL: Cech 6 – Bellerin 6 (Gabriel 6), Mustafi 6.5, Koscielny 6.5, Monreal 6 – Oxlade-Chamberlain 6, Coquelin 5.5 (Giroud 7) – Walcott 6 (Welbeck 6.5), Ozil 6, Iwobi 6 – Sanchez 5.5
Unused Subs: Gibbs, Maitland-Niles, Ospina, Reine Adelaide.
REFEREE: Martin Atkinson
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