Blues six sense over Gunners
Written By: Robert Halter
Records had been set at Stamford Bridge in the build up to the Saturday lunchtime kick off towards the end of March which heralded Arsene Wenger’s one thousandth competitive Arsenal match while the opposing Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho had never lost a Barclays Premier League home fixture as Mourinho’s Blues boasted five wins, five draws and no defeats while facing Wenger’s Gunners. In the opening minute, Wojciech Szczesny was forced to palm away the ball from an advancing Samuel Eto’o, after a cross had been put in by Andre Schurrle. But the Gunners broke on three minutes as Tomas Rosicky paved the way for Olivier Giroud but at full stretch, Petr Cech, kept out Giroud’s low drive. Although, it was the Blues that struck first in the fifth minute, when Schurrle carved the opening for Eto’o to bend the ball into the left side of the goal from just inside the area. It got worse for the Gunners two minutes later, as Nemanja Matic drove forward from the heart of midfield supplying the ammunition for Schurrle to produce a lethal finish by firing his shot into the bottom left corner. The role of Eto’o was short lived as after pulling up injured, Fernando Torres was brought on. It was a disastrous start for Arsenal as after a diving hand ball on the goal line by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from an Eden Hazard strike in the box, referee Andre Marriner sent the wrong player off by giving Kieran Gibbs a red card while awarding the Blues a penalty which Hazard converted from the spot into the centre of the goal past a beleaguered Szczesny to put Chelsea three nil up with just seventeen minutes on the clock. In an enforced change, the Gunners replaced Lukas Podolski for Thomas Vermaelen to compensate for the sending off. In just under the half hour mark, a stirring run from David Luiz ended with a well driven stinging shot which Szczesny had to turn away from his left post by palming the ball behind for a corner. The dominant first half showing from the Blues continued as Szczesny had to collect from a Schurrle effort, nine minutes later. On forty two minutes, Chelsea added a fourth, after a beautifully weighted pass by Torres laid the ball on a plate for Oscar to turn his shot deep into the centre of the net. Arsenal couldn’t find as much as a consolation towards the end of the first half as Santi Cazorla found Giroud in space, whose strike crashed into the outside of the right side netting. Before the start of the second half, Arsenal took off Laurent Koscileny for Carl Jenkinson and replaced Oxlade-Chamberlain with Mathieu Flamini. The Blues kept up the momentum from where they left off as Per Mertesacker’s sliding intervention denied Torres but from the rebound Szczesny had to make a near post block from Luiz, soon after the restart. On the hour mark, the Gunners tried to prize an opening in the shape of Cazorla but his shot drifted past the far post after fine work on the left wing by Tomas Rosicky. But two minutes later, the Blues were back on the ascendancy as Oscar’s shot fizzed over the crossbar, as Torres turned provider. The Gunners resistance was broken once again on sixty six minutes, after a loose ball by Rosicky was punished when from long range, Oscar drove the ball into the goal with the help of poor handling by Szczesny, to add a fifth. Oscar was then sacrificed as Mohammed Salah took over. Two minutes later, Luiz tried a shot from distance but Szczesny was able to the push the ball out before reclaiming it. Arsenal were hit for six of the best on seventy one minutes, as Matic floated the ball over the top from inside his own half and Salah raced clear to ram the ball home. In the final Chelsea change, John Obi Mikel replaced Luiz. The dominance of the Blues continued as Schurrle was again a menace but his curling attempt at goal missed the target in the eighty third minute. In stoppage time, Cech clawed away a well struck ball by Rosicky and as Jenkinson blazed over the follow up, it ended a dismal afternoon for Arsenal as Chelsea stole a march in the title race.