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Chelsea 3-5 Arsenal: Report, Analysis & Video Highlights

Match report and analysis from a thrilling London derby where Chelsea lost 3-5 to Arsenal at Stamford Bridge, also watch all the goals and highlights from the game….

Arsenal, buoyed by a resurgent four-match winning streak since the early disappointment in the season started Szczesny, Djourou, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Andre Santos, Song, Arteta, Ramsey, Walcott, Van Persie (C) and Gervinho at Stamford Bridge with Vermaelen and Jenkinson returning to fitness on the bench and Park preferred to Chamakh as the second-choice striker.

A suspended Didier Drogba meant that Chelsea played Cech, Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry (C), Cole, Mikel, Mata, Ramires, Sturridge, Lampard and Torres having conceded in their last eight games and coming off the back of a terrible loss away at QPR which saw them finish with nine men. The Gooners sold out their away contingent despite ludicrous £59 ticket prices and the atmosphere inside the sold-out stadium was buzzing in the late Autumn sunshine.

The home team were fast out the blocks after Ivanovich played a long through ball which reached Cole after he brushed aside Djourou – the ex-Gunner fed Torres who then fired wide from 20 yards out after 60 seconds. Arsenal hit back though, with Van Persie doing a Gervinho-esque run all the way down the Chelsea byline and goal-line but no one was in support to tap in his cross. It looked really worrying for the visitors early doors with the pace of Chelsea’s fullbacks leaving Santos and Djourou for dead, and the blues had been in behind the back four three times within five minutes. Chelsea had all of the possession in the early throes of the game with Arsenal forced to play eight men behind the ball; our wingers weren’t providing any cover and the home side were content to pile on the pressure by playing in our half. The game was so stretched by now and could have been 2-2 by now, with end to end play and varying time on the ball.

Mikel Arteta gave away a stupid foul 30 yards out, teeing up Frank Lampard – however, the Englishman fired into the wall and Walcott broke with pace, bearing down on Ashley Cole and taking it round him, firing in a low cross for Gervinho and when the Ivorian was left to side foot it into an all-but open net he dragged it wide. Another gilt-edged chance came seconds later when a whipped cross by Walcott was proded wide by his captain and you wondered whether or not we’d be left to rue these chances missed.

We didn’t have to wonder long, however, as Mata cut inside Santos, fired a cross in and Mertesacker slipped as he attempted to head it, leaving Lampard to nod in from close range on the 14th minute which was a harsh but deserved punishment for our failure to convert neither of two fantastic chances: 1-0. This wasn’t to say Arsenal were out of the game; possession changed like a pendulum and Mertesacker had a half chance in the air after wrestling a bit of space shortly before the 20 minute mark as we had a lot of the ball but the midfield were too tense and wasteful in passing and dribbling.

Chelsea had 61% of possession and nearly twice as many completed passes as us after 25 minutes but had failed to rubber stamp their one goal lead with another, Daniel Sturridge missing an easy chance after a Lampard ball over the top set up sweetly for a volley on his stronger left foot, which he sliced wide. All of Chelsea’s success had come down the right attacking Santos, partly due to his fitness and lack of aggression and also due to the fact that Walcott was surprisingly the far more vigilant winger when it came to defence and shielded his Swiss team mate far better than Gervinho did for the Brazilian. Arsenal finaly loked a bit more patient on the ball after 35 minutes and lo and behold, Aaron Ramsey picked an incisive through ball to Gervinho who, short on confidence, squared to Van Persie for the Dutchman to prod away an equaliser: 1-1 after 36 minutes. However, Sturridge seemed to retake the lead straight away after Ramires beat Santos and the Englishman poked in his cross, but was mercifully offside – this was a stark reminder that our job was FAR from done.

With five minutes left of the half the away fans drowned out the West London faithful and this reflected the change in momentum as the half ended but when Chelsea won a corner right in front of the away support you knew this would be a great barometer of the remainder of the game; unfortunately, John Terry bundled it in to make it 2-1. It’s so patently obvious Arsenal have no idea whatsoever how to defend set pieces with their new half zonal half man marking tactic and it was obvious what happened: Mertesacker had his eye on Terry, yet to make his run, but was scared of Sturridge running in behind him; as he moved backwards, the Chelsea captain took him by surprise and shinned home the corner. Only Koscielny had accredited himself at half time out of the entire back four and they certainly had a lot to prove when they came back out for the second half.

Unlike many speculated, Veramaelen didn’t replace Santos at left back and so Arsenal started the second half with the same side – to good effect, as a gorgeous Alex Song diagonal through ball found its way to him and the Brazilian drilled it straight at Cech, only for the shot to squirm underneath his body and in: 2-2 in the 49th minute. His celebratory dance in front of the Arsenal faithful was perhaps a bit OTT however considering how abysmally he had defended. Shortly after Arsenal fans had another moment to add to the highlight real after Szczesny ran all of 25 yards to knock down Ashley Cole in possession and the goalkeeper picked up a booking for his efforts which resembled his bodycheck on Gareth Bale away at Spurs last year.

The pick of the bunch so far came when Theo Walcott was knocked down by Cole 30 yards out and despite being on his hands and knees wriggled through the entire defence and pelted one in at Cech’s near post: it was a goal worthy of Messi or Iniesta and the 2-3 scoreline reflected how well Arsenal had bounced back since the break and had taken the lead for the first time in the 55th minute. The Gunners should have had a penalty moment later as a counter attack found its way to Aaron Ramsey in the Chelsea area and he, pehaps too honestly, stayed on his feet from Cole’s scything tackle and this preceded Malouda coming on for Sturridge in the 62nd minute. Chelsea settled soon after this but their passing was all over the shop with an hour gone, with a good three chances gone amiss for the host because of lacklustre running and build up play. Gervinho and Santos looked like men reborn in the second half and Arsenal were playing a more mature game: dangerous counters, delaying quick free-kicks and leaving to moaning to Arsene.

Romelu Lukaku’s introduction meant that the impressive Ramires was taken off in the 72nd minute and soon after a Ramsey ball over the top to Van Persie was overrun by the Arsenal captain and when Rambo wasted the 1-2 . Carl Jenkinson replaced the solid but untroubled Djourou in the 76th minute, as did Meireles for his teammate Mikel when Chelsea were looking to equalise but were thwarted by a brawl which ensued, starting between Ivanovich and Van Persie and both were booked; further time was wasted when Rosicky came on for Walcott in Arsenal’s second change in the 79th minute. Chelsea’s desired goal came from nothing when Lukaku obstructed Santos, allowing Mata to control the ball 25 yards out and Song’s brave challenge was not enough to stop the Spainaird finding the top left hand corner: an undeserved 3-3 scoreline.

Karma seemed to exact her sweet, sweet revenge on the (alleged) racist John Terry after he slipped over in the 85th minute, allowing RVP to round Cech and finish into an open net, and you knew he’d score every day of the week such is his blistering form and timeless class. Injury absentee and Arsenal vice-captain Thomas Vermaelen came on in the 88th minute for Gervinho, letting Santos play left wing and for the Belgian to go in at fullback. An unbeliavable counter attack rounded the game off after Rosicky bravely won a header against a high foot and broke free, allowing Van Persie to fire a trademark thunderbolt from 20 yards to secure the three points in the 92nd minute.

Words cannot describe how massive this win is for Arsenal at such a critical point in the season and the fifth win on the bounce sets the tone for the second “cup final” mid-week against Marseille: game on. The only thing left to say is to sign hat-trick hero RVP to a long term contract as at this point in time he’s the best striker on the planet – the gulf in class between the two captains was shown by the way the Dutchman gave his man of the match champagne back to young Aaron Ramsey for his play.

Watch all the goals from Chelsea 3-5 Arsenal


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