Title chasers Chelsea unravel Arsenal
Written By: Robert Halter
Chelsea were seeking their eleventh home win in all competitions against Arsenal, and open a twelve points gap over the Gunners at the top of the table, in an early afternoon Saturday kick off, near the start of February. In the beginning of the match, after David Luiz put the ball back to Thibaut Courtois, a miss kick by the Chelsea keeper, went to Mesut Ozil on the left side, who found Alex Iwobi, whose low strike deflected off Luiz and narrowly wide of the right post. In the tenth minute, after Francis Coquelin pulled down Victor Moses, a free kick by Pedro was headed down and over from Blues captain, Gary Cahill. But it was Chelsea that struck first on thirteen minutes, as Pedro slung over a cross from the right, and a fierce header by Diego Costa, smashed against the cross bar, before Marcos Alonso nodded in the rebound, but in the process knocked Hector Bellerin to the floor, and after receiving treatment for concussion, Bellerin had to leave the field and Gabriel Paulista was brought on. On eighteen minutes, from an Ozil corner, as Costa and Cahill failed to clear the box, Coquelin drove a shot over. A minute later, the Blues broke again, as Pedro slid the ball through to Costa, who fired the ball into the outside netting of the right post. In the thirty second minute, as Alonso pinged the ball over from the left, a first time shot by Pedro, was pushed behind by Petr Cech, but with a lack of conviction as the ball slipped out of his hands. But on thirty eight minutes from an Ozil corner to Coquelin, who played the ball back to Ozil, a ball in from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was met with a bullet header by Gabriel which was kept out with a flying reaction save from Courtois, who pushed the ball over like a one arm bandit. Just before the break with a counter attack move of Alexis Sanchez to Nacho Monreal, the ball was played back by Iwobi to Monreal, and then Theo Walcott combined with Coquelin, whose reverse pass went to Ozil, who drove the ball straight into Courtois. A minute into the second half, the Gunners captain, Laurent Koscielny, made a vital challenge, as the last man standing, when Eden Hazard made a forward run to Costa’s through ball. In the fifty first minute, Hazard skied an effort, as the ball was sprayed across from Nemanja Matic. The flag was then raised for offside, two minutes later, as Costa fired at Cech, from N’Golo Kante’s pass. But it was to be the Hazard show, as from a Luiz ball and knock on from Costa, Arsenal were brushed aside, as Hazard, left Koscielny and Coquelin in no man’s land, and as Koscielny tracked back with Monreal and Shkodran Mustafi, they were left stranded, as Hazard weaved his way into the area, to finish the move, by turning the ball past Cech into the back of the net on fifty three minutes. On sixty five minutes, as Sanchez found Monreal, he drove a low cross past the face of the goal, before Arsenal changed Coquelin with Olivier Giroud and then a final substitution of Danny Welbeck for Walcott. But on seventy eight minutes, Courtois was at full stretch to palm behind a header off Welbeck, after a dangerous cross in from Mustafi, after he collected a pass on the right through Sanchez. The Blues later brought on Willian for Pedro and Cesc Fabregas replaced Hazard, and on eighty five minutes from a punt forward by Cahill, a throw in by Gabriel to Cech, resulted in the Arsenal keeper kicking the ball straight out to Fabregas, who punished his mistake by lobbing the ball over Cech, into the centre of the goal, but Fabregas refused to celebrate against his former club. Four minutes later, Fabregas teed the ball up for Alonso, who directed his header into Cech’s clasp. Then within a minute, from a ball down the left wing by Alonso, an alert Costa, turned Mustafi, but smashed his strike over. At the end, Giroud headed in a consolation goal for Arsenal, from a cross by Monreal, after Iwobi started the move. In the final piece of action, a long ball over from Oxlade-Chamberlain was headed into Courtois by Mustafi, but Chelsea ran out 3-1 winners over Arsenal.