Arsenal close the gap on Chelsea
Written By: Robert Halter
Arsenal were looking to keep striking distance with Chelsea, as a win for the Gunners over the Blues at the Emirates stadium would cut the points deficit down to three points in the Premier League table. Chelsea started on the back foot and from a shoulder barge by David Luiz on Lucas Torreira, a free kick on the right by Granit Xhaka was punched clear by Kepa Arrizabalaga. In the fourth minute, Hector Bellerin’s incisive pass was put across on the right from Alexandre Lacazette, before the ball was flicked by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, narrowly past the far left post. In the eighth minute, Torreira played a short corner to Xhaka, whose cross was blazed past the right post from a header by Sokratis Papastathopoulos. The Blues responded in the tenth minute, when Antonio Rudiger supplied Cesar Azpilicueta, whose low cross was turned past the right post from Eden Hazard. Two minutes later, from a faint touch by Pedro on Lacazette, a free kick by Torreira was met with a well timed header by Gunners captain Laurent Koscielny, which was pushed over by Arrizabalaga at close range. In the thirteenth minute from a Sead Kolasinac cross, an onward header by Lacazette was headed out for corner by Marcos Alonso which Xhaka played short to Torreira before the ball was put into the area from Bellerin, which allowed Lacazette to beat Arrizabalaga at his near post, by ramming his shot from a difficult angle into the right side of the net. On seventeen minutes, through a Xhaka assist, Aubameyang glided into the box, only to be denied from a point blank save by Arrizabalaga. In the next minute, the Blues bucked up their ideas with an over the top delivery by Luiz, and as Pedro lobbed Bernd Leno, the ball went fractions over the top of the right post. In the twenty second minute, Aaron Ramsey put the ball out to Lacazette, who struck an effort high over the top. The Blues created a four man move with Alonso and a link between N’Golo Kante and Willian, before outside the box, Jorginho fired his strike above the target, in the twenty fourth minute. Within five minutes, Hazard lost his footing and Ramsey capitalised with a blast at goal which was pushed away from Arrizabalaga. In the thirty seventh minute, from a delivery by Kolasinac, a scissors kick from Aubameyang, went narrowly over to the right. Following a Luiz booking for a foul on Ramsey, a free kick by Torreira was laid off by Kolasinac, and a Sokratis cross bounced off Koscielny’s shoulder into the top right corner, to give Arsenal a two goal cushion, in the thirty ninth minute. Just before the break, from a Willian corner, a header by Alonso, cannoned against the base of the left post. As Chelsea chased the game in the second half, they first changed Mateo Kovacic with Ross Barkley. In the sixty fifth minute, Aubameyang put the ball through to Bellerin before Rudiger conceded a corner. The Gunners then brought on Ainsley Maitland-Niles for Ramsey and Alex Iwobi for Lacazette, while the Blues replaced Willian with Olivier Giroud. But Bellerin went down injured while challenging Barkley and was taken off on a stretcher as Mohamed Elneny took over. On seventy four minutes, Barkley combined with Hazard, who drove the ball across the face of goal. In the seventy seventh minute, Rudiger’s pass through to Hazard, was turned over the upright. Chelsea soon brought on Calum Hudson-Odoi for Pedro. In the eighty second minute, Hazard’s pass found Alonso, whose low drive was palmed away from a save by Leno. In the proceeding three minutes, from Iwobi’s lay off, the ball was wedged over the bar by Elneny. In stoppage time, Barkley got cautioned for a reckless challenge on Matteo Guendouzi, as Arsenal cantered to a comfortable two nil victory over Chelsea, which left the Gunners in fifth spot just outside the Champions League positions in the table which was occupied by the Blues, who were a place above them in fourth, following their defeat in mid January.