- Chelsea 12 points clear of Arsenal
- Alonso, Hazard, Fabregas score
- Gunners lose second-straight PL game
- 16 wins in last 18 PL games for Chelsea
Chelsea beat Arsenal 3-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday as Antonio Conte‘s side took another massive step towards clinching the Premier League title.
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Marcos Alonso‘s controversial first half header put them ahead, then a superb solo goal from Eden Hazard made it 2-0 and Chelsea eased to victory when Cesc Fabregas jumped off the bench and lobbed home. Olivier Giroud scored a stoppage time header which was nothing more than a consolation.
With the win the Blues remain top of the table and now have 59 points, while Arsenal has 47 and are embroiled in a battle to finish in the top four with their title chances all but over.
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Arsenal started brightly with a high-press pushing Chelsea back and that forced a mistake between Thibaut Courtois and David Luiz. The loose ball fell to Alex Iwobi but his shot deflected just wide. A let off for Chelsea.
Chelsea didn’t have to wait much longer for the opening goal as Diego Costa‘ header hit the bar, looped up in the air and the onrushing Alonso clattered into Hector Bellerin and headed home. 1-0 to Chelsea. A dazed looking Bellerin was forced off after Alonso’s elbow struck him in the face and Gabriel come on in his place.
Before half time Costa went close as he slammed a shot into the side-netting at the near post, while Shkodran Mustafi was booked for cynically hauling down Hazard on a breakaway. Chelsea went close through Pedro who forced Petr Cech into a save and then the Gunners went close agonizingly to equalizing. A corner was half cleared and then a cross from the right was met by Gabriel. The Brazilian defender sent a towering header towards goal but Courtois denied him with a sprawling one-handed save. Magnificent.
Despite that chance, and Mesut Ozil going close with a low effort, Arsenal failed to regain much of their early momentum but the Gunners only trailed 1-0 at the break.
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Koscielny made a perfect last-ditch tackle on Hazard as he threatened to race through and N'Golo Kante was at his destructive best early in the second half as Chelsea won the ball back time and time again in midfield to break up any of Arsenal’s flow.
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Then came a moment of magic which all but wrapped up the victory for Chelsea.
Hazard picked up the ball on the halfway line with nothing on. He surged past Francis Coquelin with the Arsenal midfielder all over him, then cut inside Koscielny and another Arsenal defender before tucking him past Cech. 2-0 to Chelsea a Stamford Bridge erupted.
Arsenal came close to grabbing a goal back as a cross from the left almost found Theo Walcott but Cahill snuffed out the danger to clear for a corner.
Late on Arsenal pushed to get back in the game with Giroud and Danny Welbeck coming on, and the latter had a glancing header brilliantly pushed wide by Courtois.
In the end Chelsea eased to victory as Fabregas made the most of Cech’s mistake and lobbed home to rub salt in Arsenal’s wounds, and Giroud’s late header was nothing more than a consolation for the Gunners.
Chelsea’s procession towards the title continues.