Arsenal dealt a crushing blow on their city rival Chelsea at the Emirate stadium where they put up a superlative performance that held spectators spell-bound and their opponent bemused by the sheer complexity of their attacking football. Arsenal ran the entire Chelsea’s team ragged with the rapidity of their movements, the precision of their passes, the unpredictability of their inter-switching movements with and without the ball and their ability to win back the ball after momentary loss of possession.
Arsenal scored their first goal through Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean latched onto a short back pass from Gary Cahill to his keeper, he then raced with the ball to Chelsea’s penalty box and dinked it over the head of a retreating Courtois into the net. The second goal was scored by Theo Walcott who smashed a well -laid cross from the flank into the net. Alexis Sanchez had a hand in Arsenal’s third and final goal: his one-to-one exchange of passes with Mesut Ozil enabled him to run towards the right flank from where he laid a cross to Mesut Ozil who was running to the left side of Chelsea’s penalty box; Ozil then shot the ball to the ground where it gained an extra bounce that took it over the head of Courtois into the net.
Chelsea playing with their frontline attackers comprising Hazard, Diego Coastal and Willian had their attacking play nullified by the compact defending of the Gunners’ back four. Their problem was further compounded by the mid-field pair of Matic and Fabregas who failed to provide the link-up play from the middle of the pitch where their Arsenal counterparts were bossing proceedings.
Diego Coasta was kept quiet by timely tackles of Laurent Koscienyl who gave him no inch to operate in his half of the pitch. He was ably assisted by his central half partner Mustafi who was very comfortable with the ball at his feet and dealt with the entire opponent’s attacking play with composure and good positional sense.
The mid-field trio of Carzola, Ozil, Coquelin, and then later Xhaka was threading passes to their team mates upfront through the spaces between Chelsea’s defenders who were confounded by the unpredictable movements of their opponent as they launch one attack after another.
The full back pair of Bellerini and Monreal snuffed out the dangers from the wings by successful preventing Willian and hazard from influencing the game from the flanks.
Alexis Sanchez was creating havoc in Chelsea’s half for the pitch with his direct running, his unpredictable switch of positions and his ability to launch attacks from tight spaces when surrounded by Chelsea’s players. His presence was so menacing that Gary Cahill was pressured into sending a short pass to the keeper from which the Chilean scored.
The lightning pace, the rapid exchange of passes and the confusing inter-switching of positions of Iwobi, Walcott and Sanchez set the entire Chelsea team in disarray each time they launched an attack. Iwobi, especially, made Branislav Ivanovic to look his real age.
Arsenal’s team showed a balance in the defense, the mid-field and the attack. Even the absence of a conventional point-man did not blunt the incisiveness of the attack through the central forward position.
The essence of football, as it is universally accepted, is goal scoring; but Arsenal’s game against Chelsea showed a team that not only scores but plays a breathtaking and aesthetically pleasing game that send andrenalin pumping in the veins of spectators. With what played out at the Emirate on Saturday, one is tempted to say that Arsenal is again playing the brand of football that earned them global renown and fanbase in their more prosperous years.
With Chelsea suffering two consecutive losses and some of their players playing below the standard expected from such an elite club, it right to question the wisdom of Chelsea’s management allowing Antonio Conte to finish the European Cup competition before assuming the saddle of the club. Had Antonio Conte been with Chelsea immediately he was signed : he would have been able to give more time to recruiting players that he needed for his new job. As it stands, Chelsea need a major overhaul of players in January if they intend to make the top-four position in the league this season.