July 13, 2024

Arsenal Outclassed Chelsea To Return To Summit

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Arsenal have now moved onto 78 points from their 34 games and will remain top for at least 24 hours.

FILE PHOTO: Gabriel Jesus celebrates as he scored a goal for Arsenal yesterday when they clashed with Chelsea. PICTURE: Getty Images

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LONDON: Arsenal produced a scintillating first-half display to record a 3-1 win over Chelsea at the Emirates and return to the top of the Premier League table.

A Martin Odegaard brace and Gabriel Jesus strike prolonged the Blues’ abysmal losing run under Frank Lampard, whose side could not spark a stunning second-half turnaround after Noni Madueke’s inconsequential response.

A multitude of changes from under-fire Chelsea boss Lampard did little to reverse the Blues’ terrible fortunes, as Arsenal ran riot in the first half to put the game to bed before the half-time whistle blew.

Mikel Arteta’s side came close to breaking the deadlock after just four minutes as Cesar Azpilicueta sold Kepa Arrizabalaga short with a poor header, allowing Granit Xhaka to pounce, but Kepa made himself big to save from the Switzerland captain.

However, there was little that Kepa could do to deny Odegaard in the 18th minute, as Xhaka cut back for the Norwegian to curl home a delightful strike off the crossbar – Kepa got a fingertip to his attempt but only helped the ball on its way over the line.

The captain’s opener was just reward for Arsenal’s sheer dominance, but Chelsea were nearly level out of nowhere in the 25th minute, as Ben Chilwell got beyond Bukayo Saka on the left and forced a brilliant full-stretch save from Aaron Ramsdale as he tried to pick out the far corner.

The Blues were quickly on the back foot again, though, and the lethal Xhaka-Odegaard combination came to the fore once more in the 31st minute, as the former picked out his skipper in the box to sweep home into the bottom corner.

Raheem Sterling had gone to sleep as Odegaard ghosted into space, and just three minutes later, a third Gunners goal would epitomise Chelsea’s disastrous defensive state.

An in swinging Ben White cross from the right caused chaos in the Chelsea box, and after Xhaka had a close-range attempt blocked, the ball fell kindly for Jesus to fire home from a tight angle.

The Brazilian was surrounded by a sea of blue shirts, but Lampard’s men were at sixes and sevens at the back, while an isolated Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was restricted to just nine touches in the first half at his old home – his horror show was brought to a swift end as Kai Havertz was introduced for the second period.

Normal service quickly resumed, though, as Thiago Silva eloquently cleared a Gabriel Magalhaes header off the line in the 51st minute before Kepa turned Xhaka’s low effort wide only a few seconds later.

A fourth goal was seemingly on the cards for Arsenal, but the hosts’ inability to keep the back door shut at home bedevilled them in the 65th minute, as Mateo Kovacic’s cross met Madueke, who did not get the cleanest connection on his strike into the ground but managed to beat Ramsdale either way.

Madueke had undeniably been Chelsea’s brightest spark of an otherwise torrid evening, but unlike against West Ham United and Liverpool, Arsenal would not suffer a late capitulation and comfortably held on in the dying embers.

Arsenal have now moved onto 78 points from their 34 games and will remain top for at least 24 hours, as Manchester City – who have two games in hand – try to respond against West Ham on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a disjointed Chelsea – who have now lost six games on the bounce for the first time in 30 years – are yet to hit the 40-point mark, remaining 12th with 39 on the board after 33 matches.

Next up for the Gunners is a challenging trip to Newcastle United on Sunday, while the Blues face a bottom-half battle with Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium one day before.

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