Arsenal 3-1 Chelsea: Captain Fantastic Leads by Example
Final Result: Arsenal 3-1 Chelsea (Odegaard 18′, 31′, G. Jesus 34′ | Madueke 65′)
Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale; White, Kiwior, Gabriel (Holding 85′), Zinchenko (Tierney 73′); Jorginho (Partey 86′), Xhaka; Saka (Nelson 74′), Odegaard, Trossard (Martinelli 59′); G. Jesus
I had predicted a shakeup in the starting XI with the likes of Jakub Kiwior, Jorginho and Leandro Trossard coming into the side to add some measure of freshness, and we got just that as Mikel Arteta made some alterations ahead of the clash against Chelsea at the Emirates. The Blues came into last night’s game in the most wretched of forms, and it was evident with the football on display. There was even a rare start for ex-Gunner, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and as we have come to expect in recent times, he put up another shambolic display, having only seven touches or so all game long, before losing his place to Kai Havertz.
As early as the fourth minute, Chelsea’s shakiness was on show when Cesar Azpilicueta’s attempted header back to his goalie was weak, with the ball falling gracefully to Granit Xhaka’s path. The Swiss’ toe poke goalwards was quickly smothered by Kepa Arrizabalaga. Arsenal continued the onslaught when Trossard showed some good movement on the left before teeing up Gabriel Jesus that got in between the Chelsea center halves and blasted a goal-bound shot that was saved by Kepa.
Just like in previous weeks, Kepa has had to be in his best form to keep the score lines respectable, making saves that are ultimately not enough to secure a clean sheet. With the intense amount of pressure exerted by Arsenal, a goal was inevitable and it arrived when Xhaka received the ball on the left and threaded a cushioned pass to Martin Odegaard. The Arsenal captain showed good technique to hit the ball first time with his magic wand of a left boot, smashing the underside of the bar to creep into the goal despite Kepa’s best efforts to keep it out.
Chelsea made a rare foray forward and almost got the equalizer when N’Golo Kante sent a through ball to Ben Chilwell’s path. Bukayo Saka tried to intercept the ball but was left flat on his ass, allowing the Chelsea fullback to bear down on goal before firing a swift shot that was saved superbly by Aaron Ramsdale.
Trossard was having a field day with Azpilicueta on the Chelsea right flank, and he got great combination play with Xhaka who located Odegaard at the edge of the box. Like his first strike, Odegaard hit Xhaka’s pass first time and didn’t connect superbly with it, but the direction of the shot, as well as the ball bouncing on the ground, was more than enough to deflect it far from Kepa to the Arsenal goal. Two goals to the good and the Emirates was rocking, but even the most avid skeptics took cues from the last times Arsenal scored two goals, only to concede twice, with both games ending as draws. It wasn’t going to be a case of deja vu, as the Gunners scored a third courtesy of some quick thinking from Jesus. White swung in a deep cross to the far post and after a goal-mouth scramble, Jesus was on hand to blast the ball in from a tight spot.
Three goals up and the Gunners were cruising.
Arsenal maintained their foot on the pedal in the second and almost made it four when Trossard’s in-swinger was directed towards an unguarded goal through Gabriel’s shoulder, but Thiago Silva was on hand to control the ball with his thigh before clearing it off the line. The players protested that it had crossed the line but the referee’s GLT watch didn’t vibrate, and the replays showed that their claims were wrong. The Gunners continued their incessant attacking play with a swift counter attack that saw Saka tee up Xhaka at the edge of the box. The Swiss midfielder got round Wesley Fofana and fired a shot on goal, but Kepa made another superb stop. The chances kept piling up for Arsenal with Jesus and Saka having efforts that missed their mark.
With Arsenal on cruise control against this atrocious Chelsea side, there was always the threat of complacency, and it was on show when Mateo Kovacic was unmarked in the middle and his dinked effort to Noni Madueke wasn’t intercepted by Oleksandr Zinchenko, allowing the English winger to control the ball and bundle it into the goal despite an onrushing Gabriel that clattered into his goalie, which caused an injury, because Gabriel was in discomfort till his eventual substitution for Rob Holding.
Following the blip from the Chelsea goal, Arsenal got on the ascendancy and carved open a great chance for Odegaard to seal his hat-trick but Kepa made yet another glorious save. The Spanish shot stopper made more stops from Xhaka and Saka taking his tally in the game to six. Arsenal had 16 shots in the game with 10 on target, showing their clear dominance over their West London neighbors.
Yes, it was a dire performance from Lampard and his cohorts, but you can’t take anything away from the superb outing from the lads last night. The win has taken Arsenal back to the top of the table, and we will have to hope West Ham has what it takes to keep out the Man City juggernaut, even though it seems unlikely, but stranger things have happened in the Premier League.
Follow Gooner Daily on Twitter @goonerdaily.
Visit Gooner Daily’s Facebook page.
Click on the “Follow button” to join Gooner Daily’s Mailing List