Arsenal’s title hopes were all but ended at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, with league leaders Chelsea simply too good for Arsene Wenger’s perennial also-rans.
Short of midfield options, Wenger started with Alex Oxlade Chamberlain in tandem with Francis Coquelin, and the visitors started well.
However, on 13 minutes, Chelsea took the lead, with Marcos Alonso heading home after Diego Costa’s effort had come back of the bar.
The goal was mired in controversy, with Alonso out-jumping Hector Bellerin to reach the ball and in doing so, leading with an elbow which floored the Spanish full-back and ultimately ended his game. However, despite what looked like a dangerous foul, ref Martin Atkinson let the goal stand.
— أهـدافي (@IbrahimOJT_) February 4, 2017
Bellerin’s replacement, Gabriel, had a great chance to level the scores in the first half, only to direct his free header straight at Thibaut Courtois.
While Wenger sat in the stands, courtesy of his touchline ban, Antonio Conte was as animated as ever, having a right go at his assistant after Gabriel’s effort.
Antonio Conte sending his assistant down the touchline today 💪pic.twitter.com/mgADHwY1wi
— BigSport (@BigSportGB) February 4, 2017
After the break, the Blues doubled their advantage courtesy of a superb solo goal from Eden Hazard. However, despite the winger’s skillful run, the Arsenal defence was far too easily breached.
The hosts were now well in control, with N’Golo Kanté outstanding in the middle while Mesut Ozil was infuriatingly ineffective.
A third goal would eventually come on 85 minutes, after a dreadful mistake from ex-Chelsea ‘keeper Petr Cech. Mis-hitting his clearance straight at Cesc Fabregas, Cech could only watch as the former Arsenal midfielder fired into the empty net.
The Gunners would get themselves a consolation goal at the death, with sub Oliver Giroud heading home from a Nacho Monreal centre.
— Arsenal (@AFCvideosHD) February 4, 2017
The game would end in a deserved 3-1 win for Chelsea, who, at the end of Saturday’s action, find themselves a healthy nine point lead at the top of the table, with Premier League glory well within their sights.
As for Arsenal, they are now a whopping 12 points behind Chelsea, with their title hopes down the drain.
Over the last decade, no matter the personnel on the pitch, Wenger has failed to fashion a team capable of sustaining a title challenge. No wonder Gooners seem so stressed all the time!