MATCH REPORT: CHELSEA VS ARSENAL- GUNNERS BLOCK CHELSEA'S CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUALIFICATION CONFIRMATION

The North London wall stood strong as a possession masterclass from the West struggled to break down a negative . A fixture known for the spectacular drama, the Gunners ran out winners over their London rivals at the Bridge thanks to a solitary goal by Emile Smith-Rowe. 

 

Tomas Tuchel’s outfit was handed just their second loss in 17 games since the German’s appointment. With West Ham on their tail, a win for Chelsea would have firmly secured their top-four hopes. Chelsea who are headed to face Leicester in the FA Cup Final on the weekend would have been hoping to build from last weekend’s win against the Champions Manchester City. 

 

 

Despite the loss, Tuchel’s outfit was by far the better side, as the Gunners sat back all game to keep their first-half lead secure. The win for the Gunners takes them to within one point of North London rivals Tottenham who have a game in hand. Here are the key takeaways of the game. 

 

EARLY DRAMA

A precursor of mistakes to come? Chelsea missed the opportunity to go ahead in the eleventh minute. Havertz surprised Pablo Mari in the centre of the pitch with a smart interception. He then toed it away which put him clean through on goal, as he accelerated away from the centre back and found himself one on one with Leno. The German squandered the chance over the bar as Arsenal could breathe a sigh of relief. 

 

 

On the other side of the pitch, a moment of complete lapse of concentration from Jorginho put the visitors ahead. The Italian played a no-look back pass, expecting Kepa to be standing in the middle of his goal but he was out to the left. The ball raced towards the line and would have been an own goal but for Kepa’s tenacious dive to claw it off the goal line right into the path of Aubameyang. The forward cut it back to Smith-Rowe who tapped it into an open net. 

 

BLUE TRAFFIC

After the early setback, it was all Chelsea in terms of possession and territory. Mason Mount was the brightest of the lot as he carried his rich vein of form and caused serious problems down the left.

 

Arsenal sat very deep,  11 men in their own half and invited the pressure. Leno was forced into action in the 28th minute when Gilmour passed it to Havertz who took it to the left edge of the Arsenal box and slipped to Mount to his left. The Englishman opened his body to spear a left-footed shot with his instep put the goalie parried it away to safety. 

 

 

Arsenal’s season was summed up by the mistakes that they kept committing in the first half. Saka committed a mistake in his own box as he tried to be clever and dribble past Chilwell with a turn and bomb away. However,  he was too close to the left-back who nicked it off him and poked it up to Mount whose shot was blocked out for a corner.

 

Chelsea were left to rue the moment of madness from Jorginho and Havertz’s miss as they went into the half a goal down, despite being the better side. 

 

ARSENAL’S NEGATIVE PLAY

The appointment of Arteta was met with great optimism, a disciple of Pep Guardiola, many expected the same fanfare way of total to be the Arsenal mantra. After all, ingrained within their identity of being a team that plays that is pleasing to the eye. Arteta has been far from the wannabe Pep that everyone expected. Criticised for being pragmatic in games, Arsenal were mauled by the Blue press. 

 

In the first 20 minutes of the 2nd half, Chelsea had 83% possession as Arsenal sat deep and parked the double bus in order to protect the slender lead. Chelsea continued to play the majority of the game in the Arsenal third as Reece James tried to force an equaliser with delightful passes from the wing. 

 

 

Chelsea thought they scored in the 61st minute but the celebrations were premature as Pulisic’s goal was ruled out offside after he turned in the knockdown from the left-wing corner at the back post. 

 

Chelsea huffed and puffed to turn the London Derby on its head, as the Gunner’s remained resolute with a lot of luck going their way. Saved by the bar twice in added time as  Arsenal clung on by their fingernails. The first effort was from Zouma with a 16-yard header that Leno tipped on to the crossbar and Giroud stepped out to the right to hook a right-foot volley from a tight angle into the middle of the woodwork. There was no late drama as the Gunners, hung on to win by the barest of margins. 

 

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