Chelsea have opened up a 12 point lead over local rivals Arsenal, courtesy of a classical 3-1 annihilation of the Gunners, a performance that has mirrored their rise over their London rivals as the dominant side in the capital over the last decade and a half.
Gone are the days that Arsenal would strut their stuff at Stamford Bridge, and today was no exception as goals from Marcos Alonso, Eden Hazard and former Gunners Cesc Fabregas put the Blues 3-0 ahead before an injury time header from Olivier Giroud gave Arsenal little more than a consolation and fantasy football fans everywhere something to moan about.
After having been embarrassed 3-0 at the Emirates earlier this season, a result which set Chelsea up on a fantastic winning run that has seen them climb to the top of the League standings, the Blues were always going to be up for this game.
Arsenal in contrast may well have been in the hunt had they not slipped up in midweek against Watford, and that lack of confidence showed early in this contest as Macros Alonso showed more hunger for the ball taking out Hector Bellerin to beat his fellow Spaniard in the air and planting a header past Petr Cech to give Chelsea a 13th minute lead.
Arsenal had half chances in the first period, and their best effort fell ironically to the man who came on to replace the injured Bellerin, Gabriel Paulista, but his effort was terrifically kept out by Thibaut Courtois, who had another excellent game in the Chelsea goal.
The game was over as a contest early in the second half with Eden Hazard picking the ball up in midfield shrugging off the attentions of Francis Coquelin, leaving Laurent Koscielny looking left and then right and planting a deflected effort over Petr Cech to put the Blues 2-0 ahead.
And to make matters worse for Arsenal, their former favourite son Cesc Fabregas, soon to be a second time Premier League winner with Chelsea, added a third, after being gifted the ball cruelly by an errant Petr Cech, who will forever be a favourite at Chelsea. Fabregas had no second thoughts, lobbing the ball over a stranded Cech, leaving Arsenal starring at a second defining defeat.
Olivier Giroud did grab a consolation strike for Arsenal, an excellent header after coming on in the second half for the Gunners. Funnily enough the goal exposed Chelsea’s inability to play with a flat back four anymore, and Manager Antonio Conte immediately shifted back to a back three to ensure there was to be no late drama.
Arsenal also witnessed a short cameo from Danny Welbeck, who also saw a good header saved by Courtois, but it was a poor outing for the men asking for the big bucks Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil as they just didn’t turn up in a big game that Arsenal saw plenty of the ball, but created very very little.
The calls for Arsene Wenger’s head will no doubt come again from Arsenal fans, who have seen no progress and even less desire from the Arsenal profit making machine that has forgone trophies for solidity and taken away from the fact that clubs belong to the fans and not the owners, an ironic assessment considering how much money Chelsea’s billionaire owner has pumped in to take the Blues from obscurity to a household name.
Chelsea (3-4-3): Courtois; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill; Moses (Zouma 86′), Kante, Matic, Alonso; Pedro (Willian 83′), Diego Costa, Hazard ( Fabregas 83′).
Unused subs: Begovic, Terry , Chalobah, Batshuayi.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Cech; Bellerin (Gabriel 16), Mustafi, Koscielny (c), Monreal; Coquelin (Giroud 64), Oxlade-Chamberlain; Walcott, Ozil, Iwobi; Sanchez.
Unused subs: Ospina, Gibbs, Reine-Adelaide, Maitland-Niles
Final Score: Chelsea 3-1 Arsenal (Alonso 13′, Hazard 53′, Fabregas 85′, Giroud 90+1′)