The Gunners Give Chelsea the Blues
Arsenal 3-0 Chelsea
With Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool earning victories in the game week, the onus was on Arsene Wenger’s men to keep up with the leading pack. After the faltering start to the campaign, the Gunners had gathered some momentum with wins over Watford, Hull and Southampton but their resolve was to be tested against a ‘big’ team in the form of Chelsea. The visitors had a bright start to the campaign with three wins from three but their away draw with Swansea was followed by a home loss to Liverpool, revealing the cracks in the defense.
Arsenal attacked their South West London neighbors right from the onset but they had to thank Gary Cahill for a defensive blunder that gifted them the opening goal. The English center back mistimed his intended pass to Thibaut Courtois that was anticipated by the effervescent Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean bore down on goal, waited for Courtois to commit himself, before chipping the ball over the hapless goalie to make it one nil to the Gunners.
The fans were still basking in the euphoria of grabbing the lead but the team doubled their money when Mesut Ozil combined with Hector Bellerin that squared Theo Walcott for an easy tap in. On the day Wenger made his 20th anniversary, Sanchez scored in his 100th Arsenal game and Walcott scored on his 350th. These lads sure have a sense of occasion.
Conceding those two early goals opened Chelsea up and they did their bit to reduce the deficit but with a calamity like David Luiz in the defense, you would expect more gaping holes, and they were punished when Sanchez combined with Ozil to put the Gunners three up before halftime. Going 3-0 up against Chelsea is something that has not happened in a very long time and it sent the fans into delirium but there was a second half to look forward, and it was important for the lads to keep their concentration in check.
Up stepped Kieran Gibbs, who came up for Alex Iwobi and did his bit to protect Nacho Monreal with minimal fuss. There was a moment when Diego Costa was close to pulling the trigger but Gibbsy made a great interception. Sanchez looked spent and the boss brought on the bearded Olivier Giroud to wind down the clock but Petr Cech had to remain alert to parry a Michy Batshuayi shot late on. The team held on for a famous victory and you could see how it meant to them. Chelsea was one of those bogey teams that have made life quite uncomfortable for Wenger and it was wonderful.
The defending was virtuoso with the Kostafi combination keeping Diego Costa in their pocket for the entirety of the game. The calmness at the back was very welcome and I’m happy to see Bellerin and Monreal picking form too.
On the flip side, there is concern over the fitness of Francis Coquelin. Despite Granit Xhaka’s goalscoring exploits, Le Coq retained his place ahead of the Swiss big-money signing but succumbed to a knee injury and left the field in clutches. Sadly, Wenger also confirmed that it was the same knee he hurt last season, and I’m hoping he wouldn’t be out for a long time. Yes, there is depth in the forms of Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny but ‘Coqzorla’ had formed a formidable partnership in midfield.
All focus would be shifted to the Champions League encounter against FC Basel. More on that in the coming days.
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