Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal put forth a performance that would make former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho proud as the stout-defending Gunners made a fortunate goal stand up for three points at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
Arsenal’s European hopes have been renewed by the surprise win, which was cued up by a Jorginho error that led to an Emile Smith-Rowe first-half goal.
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That was all Arsenal needed as Chelsea asked questions without answers, out-attempting the visitors 17-5 but failing to find a goal.
Chelsea is stuck in 64 points, two points behind third-place Leicester City.
Arsenal moves into eighth on 55 points, level with Everton who’s played two fewer matches. Spurs have one more point in one fewer match, while sixth-place Liverpool has 57 and fifth-place West Ham 58. It’s possible, but not probable, that Arsenal can find its way back to the UEL.
Three things we learned from Chelsea – Arsenal
1. Gabriel shows his top class: Arsenal led but defended for so much of this game, and Gabriel Magalhaes was very good from his spot in the back three. He registered 10 clearances as a foe for so many attempted Chelsea crosses, including a late promising ball from Christian Pulisic, and blocked two shots while serving up six long passes and completing three.
2. Smith-Rowe keeps growing into his potential: No, Emile Smith-Rowe didn’t have to do much but arrive at the doorstep to score his goal, but the 20-year-old attacking midfielder has scored in consecutive wins as Arsenal keeps its faint European hopes alive. He didn’t have to do a lot the rest of the way besides keep his position and press the ball when it swung near him, but Gooners will be happy to count him as improving and growing late in this breakout season.
3. Shocking error: It’s no surprise when some players screw up, but Jorginho rarely makes errors and certainly not ones as glaring as his back pass toward the center of an empty goal. The Italian center mid had no clue that Kepa Arrizabalaga had moved to his left to be available for a pass, and hit a ball that forced the keeper to make an athletic denial that wound up in the goal when Aubameyang sent the rebound to Smith-Rowe. Whoops (video).
Man of the Match: Gabriel Magalhaes
Whatever becomes of the young defender, he looked every bit of his price tag.
Chelsea – Arsenal recap
Chelsea’s steady metronome went off-kilter early in Wednesday’s match, making a bad pass toward the center of his goal that Kepa did well to save.
Unfortunately, that slapped-away ball fell for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who calmly set up Emile Smith-Rowe for his second goal in as many games.
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Chelsea had already lamented Kai Havertz’s long breakaway that led to a shot hit well over the goal, and the Blues saw so many chances off by this much.
Arsenal’s defending held firm as Bernd Leno made four saves, the Gunners defenders blocked five shots, and Chelsea was wasteful in putting nine shots off target despite its 67 percent possession and 19 attempts.