Arsenal cut gap to fourth-placed Chelsea to three points

Chelsea’s lack of cutting edge and obvious signs of weak mentality were on display as they lost 2-0 to Arsenal at the Emirates, allowing the Gunners – along with Manchester United – to cut the gap on the Blues to three points in the race to get a top 4 spot.

Tonight’s performance was almost a carbon copy of the 3-1 loss to Tottenham Hotspur back in November and you could tell from the very start that it was going to be a long night for Maurizio Sarri’s side as Arsenal’s intense pressing from the off hampered Chelsea’s ability to play their style and at their usual pace.

Alexandre Lacazette put Arsenal ahead in the 14th minute when he made the most of Chelsea being asleep defensively at a set-piece with a fine first touch before turning and beating Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga at his near post with a fierce strike.

They then deservedly doubled their lead as Laurent Koscielny took advantage of another set-piece that Chelsea switched off for and scored despite missing a free header as it fortuitously looped in off his shoulder.

Chelsea’s only genuine chances came in the first half when Pedro looped the ball over Bernd Leno and went just wide, whilst Marcos Alonso’s header struck the post on the stroke of half-time. They posed a greater threat in the second half as they commanded the play and possession but failed to capitalise on that, something which has been quite evident all season long.

Match Statistics

Possession (%)  – Arsenal 36%, Chelsea 64%
Shots – Arsenal 13, Chelsea 13
Shots on Target – Arsenal 5, Chelsea 1
Corners – Arsenal 5, Chelsea 6
Fouls – Arsenal 13, Chelsea 15
Offsides – Arsenal 1, Chelsea 0
Yellow/Red Cards – Arsenal 0/0, Chelsea 2/0

(Bonus Stat) Chelsea had to wait until the 82nd minute before having their first shot on target, despite having 64% of Possession.

Post-Match Thoughts

  • False 9? Felt like False 11 today.
  • Could have been 4-0 if not for Kepa.
  • Higuain can’t come quick enough.
  • Hudson-Odoi came on 80 minutes too late.
  • Alonso and Willian should NEVER play for the club again.
  • Hazard doesn’t deserve this.

Chelsea Player/Manager Ratings

Starting XI
Kepa (7 – MOTM) If it wasn’t for him in the first half, the scoreline could have been a whole lot worse.
Azpilicueta (5) – Poor match for ‘Mr. Consistent’.
Rudiger (6) – Passion and effort was plain to see, but unable to do more when everyone else around him was not helping.
David Luiz (5) – The 2012 Luiz was back today. No amount of passing can cover up that woeful defending was very evident.
Alonso (3) – Awful, simply awful. Even questioning myself as to whether he deserves a rating as high as that.
Kanté (5) – A very rare off night for the Frenchman. Didn’t turn up.
Jorginho (5) – Feel sorry for him as no one help supported him – whether in possession or in defending. Has no one to pass to due to no one wanting to make a run or create space for others. Completely exposed.
Kovačić (6) – Worked hard as always but completely exposed due to having to cover Alonso’s lack of defensive talent as trying to help initiate an attack, something that the likes of Willian should be doing.
Willian (4) – Goal/performance against Newcastle was an anomaly. Back to the sort of performance we’re used to.
Hazard (6) – Tried his absolute best as per usual but doesn’t deserve to be part of performances like this. Eden needing help and quality all over the pitch is an incredibly big understatement.
Pedro (5) – Usually get better outings from someone of Pedro’s ability. Maybe a sign that his time at the club is coming to an end.

Substitutions

Barkley (63′ for Kovacic) – 5, Offered nothing.
Giroud (68′ – for Hazard) – 6, Tried his best as always but unable to turn the tide as the game was already over.
Hudson-Odoi (80′ for Pedro) – 6, Decent 10 minutes from the youngster, but should have started from the beginning in my opinion. And from now on.

Manager

Maurizio Sarri (5) – An off night for the manager if there ever was one. Starting XI was questionable from the off, and time it took to make any substitutions was far too late as the game was already lost in my opinion.

Written by Terry Sazio.

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