LONDON — Arsenal shellacked Chelsea 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, with first half goals from Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil doing the damage.
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Arsene Wenger had gone nine games without a win against Chelsea but in the same week he celebrates 20 years in charge at Arsenal, his side put in a dominant display to make it four wins on the spin in the Premier League.
Here’s what we learned from the Emirates after an embarrassing encounter for Chelsea and a wonderful result for Arsenal.
ARSENAL END HOODOO IN STYLE
As bad as Chelsea’s defending was, this is what Arsenal can do to teams. The Gunners totally dominated Chelsea in the first half and it could’ve been more than 3-0 at half time. With Alexis Sanchez through the middle, Theo Walcott and Alex Iwobi on the wings and Mesut Ozil in the hole, Arsenal’s offense was balanced, dangerous and too quick for Chelsea to handle.
This game reminded me of Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Manchester United at the Emirates last season. They blew away United with a blistering first half performance and it was eerily similar on Saturday. The result was never in doubt from 14 minutes in which was a huge relief for Arsenal, who haven’t beaten Chelsea in their last nine attempts in the PL and haven’t scored in their last six games against their London rivals. The ended their hoodoo in sensational fashion.
With a run of four-straight wins in the Premier League, the Gunners have rebounded well from their opening day defeat against Liverpool. With a UEFA Champions League clash against FC Basel on Wednesday, Wenger’s boys are finding form and his squad looks strong with Olivier Giroud, Lucas Perez, Granit Xhaka and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all on the bench. Suddenly, the boo boys have quietened down and Arsenal will have the bragging rights with their illustrious London rivals for the first time in a long time. The Gunners simply hammered Chelsea. This win has been a long time coming.
3-5-2 MIGHT HELP CHELSEA’S BLUNDERING DEFENSE
Antonio Conte stood with his arms folded for most of Chelsea’s first half collapse. He looked like a broken man.
Conte prides himself on defensive solidity, as most Italian coaches do, and his Chelsea team are gifting goals to opponents every time they walk on the pitch at the moment. In their last four games they’ve conceded nine times, with at least two goals given up in each games. Against Swansea City it was Gary Cahill and Thibaut Courtois at fault. Against Liverpool it was Cahill again. Against Arsenal it was Cahill for the first and Branislav Ivanovic had a horrid evening. Even when you look back to the start of the season, Chelsea leaked goals against West Ham and Watford with very poor defending. It can’t continue if they’re going to be successful.
Simply put, Chelsea can’t wait for John Terry to return. Their 35-year-old captain and talisman has been sorely missed over the past three games and Cahill looks like he could be the odd man out. In the second half Conte switched to a 3-5-2 formation with 35 minutes to go and his side looked slightly more solid which wasn’t difficult after the first half.
Conte likes to play a 3-5-2. He mastered it with Juventus and Italy and it would be a shock to not see Ivanovic, Terry and David Luiz at center back in their next game. Silly defensive errors are ruining Chelsea’s good start to the season. The Italian manager has now lost two-straight league games for the first time since 2009 and he will be hurting. If his team at Chelsea is to be a success then he must tighten up his defense.
NEW DEALS FOR ALEXIS, OZIL A MUST
Arsenal’s third goal (see above) epitomized why they must break the bank to keep Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil around. Wenger has spoken many times about ongoing negotiations with Arsenal’s two marquee attackers but the longer it goes on, the more worried Arsenal’s fans should get.
It seems like there are now weekly reports that Sanchez, 27, is interesting Manchester City as the man who brought him to Barcelona, Pep Guardiola, is eager to take him to City. Now, it is unlikely Arsenal, in their current financial situation, will allow Sanchez to leave for City but it is understood he wants a buy-out clause in any new deal. Ozil is said to be more relaxed about signing a new deal but there’s no doubting that performances like this highlight just how important these two are to Arsenal.
Sanchez has now scored four goals in his last four games for the Gunners and he may well be their most important player but Ozil is a close second. With Sanchez’s electric pace and Ozil’s trickery, they are the perfect combo. Wenger and the directors at the Emirates Stadium must tie these two down to new long-term deals as soon as possible.
BONUS: Theo Walcott was sublime in what was one of his best-ever performances for Arsenal. He scored a goal, ran tirelessly down the right flank an looked dangerous whenever he ran at Chelsea’s defense. Now, all he needs to do is stay injury free.