CHELSEA OPEN GAP WITH WIN OVER ARSENAL
Chelsea all but ended Arsenal’s title challenge and extended their lead at the top of the table to 5 points with a 3-0 win at the Emirates.
On a wet day in North London Arsenal knew that a win against London rivals Chelsea would fire them back into the title race following last weeks disappointing defeat to Sunderland. While Chelsea were looking to extend their lead at the top of the table following Manchested United’s win at Portsmouth. Arsenal started brightly moving the ball about in their usual fashion and managed to carve out a couple of half chances in the opening exchanges. A Sagna cross from the right was flicked on by Arshavin to Fabregas, but he failed to get any decent contact. Eduardo was looking busy up front and almost robbed John Terry on the edge of Chelsea’s box but the the visitors managed to clear the danger. For all of Arsenal’s industry they had yet to test Cech’s goal.
Chelsea grew into the game and began to look dangerous on the break with Drogba and Anelka working hard to pressurise the Arsenal back-line. Then came the first real talking point of the game. Anelka managed to beat the offside trap and was in on goal, Sagna chased back and as Anelka was ready to shoot appeared to haul the Chelsea man to the ground, but the referee waved play on.
The game was then stopped as a camera was thrown towards Frank Lampard as he waited to take a corner in front of the Arsenal fans. The incident will be reviewed by the FA. Arsenal continued to have the majority of possession but clearly missed Robin Van Persie and struggled to make any clear-cut chances as Eduardo and Arshavin were finding it hard to get into the game. You got the feeling Chelsea were going to punish Arsenal’s failure to convert possession into to goals. With half time approaching they duly obliged.
On 41 minutes, Terry sent Ashley Cole clear down the left, he sent a low cross into the box where Drogba was waiting the steer the ball into the far top corner of a stranded Almunia’s net. Chelsea had scored with their first real attempt on goal, showing Arsenal how it was done.
The Emirates faithful tried to rally their troops as Arsenal kicked off, but within 2 minutes it was 2-0. Cole was again the provider from the left, this time his low cross was turned into his own net by Varmaelen. A poor goal from Arsenal’s point of view, Gallas should have cut out the cross and Almunia could have communicated better with his centre-backs. The half time whistle went and Chelsea had blown Arsenal away with 2 goals in 4 minutes. Arsenal were going to have to score 3 goals in 45 minutes against the best defense in the league if they were to win this one.
Arsene Wenger brought on Theo Walcott for Song at half time. The second half got under way and Arsenal went searching for goals. The pace of Walcott down the right was causing Chelsea problems, even if his end product was lacking. Then came the second major talking point of the match. Arsenal thought they had got themselves back into the match when Arshavin smashed home a loose ball, but the referee blew up for a high boot from Eduardo on Cech during the build up. The decision clearly angered Wenger as he must have felt with this goal Arsenal would have been back in the game.
The second half progressed much like the first, Arsenal enjoying the majority of possession but never really testing Cech, and Chelsea defending comfortably and hitting Arsenal on the break. Chelsea nearly grabbed a third when Drogba’s shot deflected of Lampard but a wrong footed Almunia made a great save low to his right. Arsene Wenger was left reeling again as substitute Vela was denied a penalty. It looked like he was fouled on the edge of the Chelsea penalty area, he tried to stay on his feet but stumbled to the floor with Ivanovic near by, again the referee waived play on.
The game was then ended as a contest on 87 minutes when Chelsea were awarded a free-kick 25 yards from goal. Drogba stepped up and smashed it home with Almunia getting nowhere near it. Game over and Drogba had once again proved the match winner against Arsenal.
Chelsea march on and open up a 5 point gap from second placed Man Utd and an 10 point gap from third placed Tottenham. With this kind of ruthless form, it will be difficult to bet against Carlo Ancelotti winning the Premiership Title in his first year in charge. As for Arsenal, it seems like Wenger’s project youth may have to wait a little longer before they can be considered real title contenders.
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