LONDON — Chelsea’s procession towards the Premier League title continued on Saturday as they beat London rivals Arsenal 3-1 to all but end any slim chance the Gunners had of wining the PL crown.
[ RECAP: Chelsea batter Arsenal ]
Marcos Alonso, Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas grabbed the goals as a poor defensive display from Arsenal display saw Chelsea punish them ruthlessly.
Here’s what we learned from a sunny Stamford Bridge.
ALONSO’S GOAL DUBIOUS
If Marcos Alonso makes the challenge for his goal anywhere else on the pitch, he’s getting a free kick given against him and probably a yellow card.
Because he made it five yards from goal it seemed to be tolerated. It was a very dubious goal.
Alonso had a five-yard run on Hector Bellerin and climbed above the Spanish right back fair and square. However, his elbow was out to protect him and it smashed into Bellerin’s face. In real-time it didn’t look malicious but when you see the replays time and time again, Alonso knew what he was doing.
[ LISTEN: 2 Robbies on Chelsea v. Arsenal ]
A dazed Bellerin had to be subbed out such was the impact he felt and Arsenal never truly recovered from both his absence and the momentum the early goal gave them.
Martin Atkinson allowed the goal but the decision was at best 50-50. Alonso and Chelsea probably got away with one. When you’re running away with the title after winning 16 of your last 18 Premier League games, those are the kind of calls that tend to go in your favor.
Look below and make up your own mind…
ARSENAL’S TITLE HOPES END IN A WHIMPER
12 points back with 14 games to go, Arsenal can now safely wave goodbye to their title hopes for another season after another abject display at Chelsea.
With Arsene Wenger watching on moodily from the stands, his players didn’t look up for the physical battle and were bullied by Chelsea. Especially in midfield.
The excellent N'Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic stopped Mesut Ozil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from getting on the ball, and the lack of effort Theo Walcott made to track Alonso’s run for the opener said it all.
Desire. Drive. Determination. That was all missing from this Arsenal display.
Oxlade-Chamberlain was tasked with shutting down Kante in Chelsea’s midfield and about five minutes he ducked out of a challenge 40 yards from his own goal. Challenges like that set the tone.
Arsenal’s title hopes were on the line after their shock defeat at home to Watford in midweek. You would have never guessed that watching them limp to yet another defeat at Chelsea as they’ve now lost their last five PL trips to Stamford Bridge, conceding 15 goals and scoring three.
With the future of Arsene Wenger, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez still up in the air, the next few months could be very uncomfortable for the Arsenal board as their side battle for an FA Cup final spot and a place in the top four once again. The latter is seeming increasingly at risk given the closeness of their competitors.
HAZARD BACK TO HIS BEST
The old Eden Hazard is back.
His jinxing runs were plentiful and his goal which sealed victory reminded us of the player who took the PL by storm in the 2014-15 season.
Hazard, still just 26 years old, has now scored 10 Premier League goals this season. His best tally in a single season is 14 which he achieved in back-to-back campaigns from 2013 to 2015.
It wasn’t just his goals and his clever ducking and diving which got fans on their feet, his hunger was evident as he did plenty of work back on the edge of his own box in the first half. He was everywhere.
Much has been made of Diego Costa‘s goals and Chelsea’s switch to a 3-4-3 system improving their defense, but if they do go on to win the title then Hazard’s return to glorious form will have played just a big a part.
Now, the challenge for him will be sustaining his magic for the next two to three seasons. His mojo is back but we all saw last season how quickly it disappeared.