Arsenal give Arsene Wenger the perfect anniversary gift by ending Chelsea jinx
PUBLISHED: 13:03 26 September 2016 | UPDATED: 13:03 26 September 2016
With the Gunners’ previous league win against Chelsea coming nearly five years earlier, the omens did not look good ahead of Saturday’s London derby.
Arsenal faced a Blues side who did the double over them last season, one against which they had ominously even failed to score in the last half a dozen league meetings.
The reasons for Arsenal’s shortcomings in this match-up had been often due to the lack of an option in response to the west London side’s deployment of a narrow defensive shape that crowded the midfield and disrupts the Gunners’ passing game.
However, whereas before there was a famine of pace and fluidity in the Arsenal outfit required to break down Chelsea teams, Saturday suddenly presented a feast of those qualities, as they demolished the Blues in devastating fashion and ripped up a nagging history book which has for years been their nemesis.
The recent emergence of the tricky Alex Iwobi on the left flank and the reintroduction of Theo Walcott to the right, aided by the tenacious Alexis Sanchez, has given Arsenal a refreshing new threat up front with aggression, mind-scrambling interchange and bona-fide endeavour.
This was epitomised when Sanchez, who many swear blind is powered on Duracell batteries due to his never-ending energy, chased down the dithering Gary Cahill, whose short back bass allowed him to nip in and loop the ball over the hapless Thibaut Courtois to give Arsenal the lead.
As the hysteria ensued, a glance down to the touchline offered the glorious sight of Arsene Wenger performing something of a French jig in delight at seeing his side rewarded with a gift-wrapped present on his 20th anniversary as Arsenal manager.
What’s more, only three minutes later, the Frenchman had his tap dancing shoes on again, as precise passing in and around the box saw the ball played wide to Hector Bellerin, who squared a low cross for the unmarked Walcott to stroke the ball into the net.
This was Arsenal at their best. Incisive passing with such tempo and slickness that Chelsea’s defenders could have been forgiven for feeling on the dizzy side by this stage.
Incredibly, Wenger’s men proceeded to become even better and Mesut Ozil turned N’Golo Kante, almost Bergkamp-esque. The sublime German then continued to dash forward, latching on to a Sanchez clip, before volleying the ball into the ground over Courtois.
Renditions of ‘we’re by far the greatest team, the world has ever seen’ began to ring around the Emirates and continued right through to the interval with the home faithful recognising that these special nights do not come around too often.
And while the second half was still to come, in truth, Wenger could have hit the vino early, as the game had already been won in those sublime 45 minutes by his orchestra of footballing starlets.
The second 45 consisted of Arsenal protecting the result with resolve and a cute defensive nous, while Chelsea took the approach of damage limitation, as they rarely threatened to mount a comeback.
A fantastic 3-0 win, combined admirably with scintillating interplay and defensive resolve, should have every Arsenal supporter believing that this year could be different.
Both in his programme notes and post-match press conference, Wenger said: “We feel as though we are on the way up,” and on this evidence he may be right.