Saturday, 4 February 2017

Chelsea thrash Arsenal 3-1

Eden Hazard scored a sublime solo goal as Premier League
leaders Chelsea thrust a dagger into Arsenal ’s title
aspirations with a 3- 1 victory at Stamford Bridge on
Saturday .

The Belgian winger left a trail of defenders in his wake to
double Chelsea’s lead in the 53 rd minute , in between a
contentious header by Marcos Alonso and a late lob from
Arsenal old boy Cesc Fabregas .

It was Chelsea’ s 11 th home victory in succession and their
16 th win in 18 league games , stretching their lead over
third -place Arsenal to a huge 12 points with 14 games of
the season remaining.

Chelsea have been close to unplayable since Antonio Conte
changed their system during their 3- 0 loss at Arsenal on
September 24 and it seems only a matter of time until they
are crowned champions .

For Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger , who watched from
the stands as he served the third game of a four - match
touchline ban , his side ’s season is following a wearily
familiar pattern.

Arsenal have lost their last five games at the Bridge and
had conceded 13 unanswered goals prior to Olivier Giroud ’ s
stoppage -time consolation .

They have lost four of their last nine league games and
once again face the prospect of a run-in given suspense only
by the tussle for Champions League places .

With a raft of midfielders unavailable , Wenger was obliged
to start with Alex Oxlade - Chamberlain alongside Francis
Coquelin in the middle , while Theo Walcott replaced Giroud
in attack.

Arsenal had conceded two goals in the first 13 minutes of
Tuesday ’s 2 -1 loss at home to Watford .

They almost caught Chelsea cold here , Alex Iwobi curling
wide after Thibaut Courtois overhit a pass towards David
Luiz .

But after Gary Cahill had headed into the ground and over
the bar at the other end, Chelsea went ahead in the 13 th
minute with a goal that left Arsenal fans fuming .
– Bellerin forced off –

Pedro sent a cross into the box from the right that Diego
Costa headed against the bar at the near post , sending the
ball spinning into the air .

As Hector Bellerin got himself in position to head it away,
and with Walcott watching on impassively , Alonso flew in ,
cleaning his fellow Spaniard out with his forearm and
heading the ball home .

Referee Martin Atkinson allowed the goal to stand and
Arsenal ’ s disappointment was compounded by the sight of a
dazed Bellerin being led down the tunnel , with Gabriel
taking his place .

Chelsea were buoyant , Costa driving a shot into the side -
netting and Pedro forcing Petr Cech to push the ball behind
from Alonso ’s accurate cut -back .

But Arsenal ended the first half strongly , Courtois
producing a stunning one -handed save to turn Gabriel’ s
header over the bar and then dropping onto a tame effort
by Mesut Ozil .

It took a last-ditch tackle by Laurent Koscielny to prevent
Hazard scampering clear early in the second half , but when
the Chelsea number 10 picked up the ball in the 53 rd
minute , there was no getting it back .

After striding onto a loose ball in the centre circle, he beat
Koscielny, shrugged off Coquelin, leaving him flat on his
back , and then outfoxed Koscielny again before squeezing a
shot past Cech.

On the touchline , Conte celebrated with characteristic
abandon .

There were flickers from Arsenal , Courtois clawing away a
deft header from substitute Danny Welbeck , before
Fabregas lobbed in from 25 yards after Cech shanked the
ball straight to him .

Giroud reduced the arrears, heading in from Nacho
Monreal ’s cross .


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