More Stamford Bridge woe as Arsenal are well beaten by leaders Chelsea
Arsenal were beaten 3-1 by Premier League leaders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this afternoon.
The win sends the Blues 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League table – ahead of Tottenham Hotspur’s match later this afternoon with Middlesbrough (5.30pm kick-off UK time).
For the Gunners it’s back-to-back Premier League defeats this week and another well below par performance.
Arsenal were looking for a first win at Stamford Bridge since 2011.
The Gunners made a bright start and almost capitalised in the 2nd minute on Chelsea overplaying at the back. A Thibaut Courtois pass was intercepted by Alex Iwobi, but his low shot went narrowly wide.
But it was Chelsea who opened the scoring in the 13th minute.
Pedro was given time to cross and his cross was met by the head of Diego Costa. His effort hit the bar and Marcos Alonso outjumped Hetcor Bellerin to head into the net.
There will be a debate on whether Alonso’s challenge on Bellerin was a foul or not, but referee Atkinson deemed it was wasn’t and allowed the goal to stand.
Replays showed that Alonso’s elbow caught Bellerin at the same time as he made contact with the ball.
To make matters worse for Arsenal, Bellerin suffered a head injury in the challenge and had to be replaced by Gabriel.
The Gunners then had to weather spells of Chelsea pressure, as the home side went in search of doubling their lead.
Alonso then almost turned provider crossing for Diego Costa and his shot was fumbled behind by Petr Cech for a corner.
Arsenal had a chance to equalise in the 37th minute, but Gabriel’s header from Coquelin’s cross was tipped over the bar by Courtois.
On the stroke of half-time, Mesut Ozil had another chance for the Gunners. He was set up by Theo Walcott, but his shot was held by Courtois.
It was Chelsea though who got the crucial second goal of the match in the 52nd minute.
Eden Hazard, who had been a thorn in the side of the Arsenal defence throughout the match, picked up the ball on the halfway line, twisted, turned, beat three Gunners defenders and finished past Cech.
Hazard has now had a hand in seven goals in his last nine Premier League matches at Stamford Bridge.
Alexis and Monreal combined well in the 66th minute as Arsenal looked for a way back into the match. But there was no no-one on hand to convert Monreal’s cross.
Courtois was on hand in the 78th minute to deny Danny Welbeck. He produced a superb save to tip the Arsenal substitute’s header round the post for a corner.
Arsenal’s misery was complete when old boy Cesc Fabregas was presented with the ball by Chelsea old boy Cech. Fabregas lobbed the ball into net (86th minute) for a third goal for the home side.
There was still time for Arsenal to score a late goal (no consolation though to mask a poor performance), with substitute Olivier Goiroud heading in Monreal’s cross).
So the speculation will now crank up on Arsene Wenger’s future, and the mentality and desire of the Arsenal players will come under renewed scrutiny.
For Chelsea only a highly unlikely collapse will stop them claiming the Premier League crown. Even if their form falters no-one in the distant chasing pack appears to have the consistency to mount a credible challenge.
Arsenal : Cech; Bellerin (Gabriel), Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin (Giroud), Oxlade-Chamberlain; Walcott (Welbeck), Ozil, Iwobi; Sanchez.