Monday, December 27, 2010

Chelsea Continue Their Dismal Form As Arsenal Prove Title Credentials

I always love when these games are upon us. Chelsea who went into this game on the back of 5 winless games, were looking to redeem themselves against an Arsenal side who have failed to beat Chelsea in their last 5 attempts. It had all the ingredients for an epic match and the result was unforeseen, to say the least.

Speaking midweek, Arsenal Wenger spoke of how the fear factor takes over when they play against top sides like Chelsea. It was what captain Fabregas had said and Wenger had repeated it to emphasise how important this match was for the gunners. A win would bolster Arsenal title credentials and would catapult them up to 2nd and leave them just 2 points behind bitter rivals Manchester United. A win for Chelsea would see their slump come to an end (it was inevitable anyway) and take them above the gunners, leaving them level on points with Manchester City.

The pressure was on both teams to perform as Manchester City & Manchester United set the pace yesterday with 3-1 and 2-0 wins respectively. The result was for once unpredictable, as an Arsenal team of youngsters finally looked like men and delivered a performance worthy of a mention from Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola.

Match report:

Chelsea continued their dismal run of form with a resounding 3-1 defeat to London rivals Arsenal extending their winless run to a record 6 games and it is their worst run in form for over 10 years.

The Gunners had started the brighter of the two and almost took the lead if only Van Persie had connected with a diagonal ball. The Gunners nearly suffered from some slack defending courtesy of Laurent Koscielny who hasn't endured the best of times in London. Drogba was given the ball, dribbled past Koscielny and was 1-1 with Johan Djourou when he uncharacteristically dragged it wide. Chelsea looked virtually non existent as Arsenal started to take control and dominate. Chances were few ans far between at the Emirates with Arsenal by far the stronger of the two. Neither keepers were really tested early on but in the 20th minute Nasri warmed Cech's hands with a rasping drive from 20 yards. Fabregas & Nasri continued to control the match and Chelsea continued to defend superbly.

We had to wait until the 41st minute to see the next bit of notable action and Nasri was once again involved. Nasri received the ball somewhat 25 yards out and attempted a deft chip but Petr Cech was equal to his efforts.

The deadlock was broken on the stroke of half time as Arsenal took a vital lead. Wilshere passed into the box, in the midst of three Arsenal players, Cesc Fabregas was fouled, Mark Clattenburg played advantage and Alexander Song slotted home. It was a deserved lead for the gunners after their domination had finally paid off.

The second half was more or less the same as Chelsea decided to introduce Ramires to shake things up a bit.

Captain 'Fab'tastic
Chelsea's title aspirations were then dealt an ultimate blow after they conceded a second just 5 minutes into the 2nd half. Robin Van Persie was caught in possession and Essien's tackle fed the ball to Theo Walcott who then fed captain Cesc Fabregas. And it was 3-0 just 2 minutes later when Frenchman Florent Malouda was dispossessed and Fabregas fed Walcott for his 6th goal in 9 games this season.

Another goal came in the 57th minute but it favoured Chelsea this time round. A Drogba free kick was headed in by centre-back Branislav Ivanovic. Set pieces have always been Arsenal's Achilles heel and that's the reason why they've been linked to the likes of Shay Given & Mark Shwarzer.

Despite continuous pressure from the champions, Arsenal held out and broke their duck, finally winning against Chelsea which they had failed to do in their last 5. It was tough work for Arsene Wenger's team as they survived a late surge from Chelsea to win 3-1.

This leaves the future undecided for under fire Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti after a winless streak in the Premier League that dates back to Ray Wilkins' departure. Despite continuous assurement that Ancelotti's job is not under threat, it remains to be seen what the future holds for Chelsea football club.

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