Arsenal Tops Chelsea 3-1: Recap and Player Ratings
As usual, Arsenal carved out several chances in the first half yet could not make the opposition pay. It left you wondering: Is this going to be a game where the Gunners control possession and the game, but lose out in the end?
Early on, Arsenal applied the pressure and Chelsea coughed up the ball regularly, allowing the Gunners goal-scoring opportunities. Robin van Persie received a chance near the by-line, but skyed the ball over the net. Samir Nasri could have scored in the 41st minute if it weren't for a remarkable save by Petr Cech; who touched the ball over the bar, after Nasri's effort was going in the top left corner.
The deadlock was broken on the verge of half-time. Jack Wilshere tried to play a ball through a forest of legs in the Chelsea box, Cesc Fabregas seemed to be tripped and somehow Alexandre Song ended up with the ball, smashing it into the far corner of the net. Arsenal went into the break up one.
After the interval, the question was: could Arsenal keep their momentum going? That question was answered in the 50th minute when Fabregas fired home a second goal. Cole was caught out of position and Theo Walcott slipped in behind the defense.
Walcott, running goal-ward, had the soundness of mind to square the ball just before the charging Cech reached him. The ball reached the feet of El Capitan, who calmly and assuredly side-footed the ball into the back of the net.
Arsenal fans were still cheering when they scored another. Walcott again made a dash behind the defense, this time firing past Cech into the opposite corner with an exquisite finish. Arsenal was on fire, and it looked like they may have a goal-fest on their hands.
Arsenal was slapped back into place when four minutes later, in the 57th minute, Ivanovic headed home a Drogba free-kick.
The last half-hour was tense. Both sides looked for a goal that could either revive or kill the game.
In the 70th minute, Nasri had a golden opportunity to settle the encounter. Yet, his half-volleyed attempted chip was palmed away by Cech.
Abou Diaby returned from injury and replaced Walcott, soon finding the ball at his feet in the penalty box. He hesitated to shoot with his left-foot and switched it to his right. The Chelsea defense scrambled back just in time to see the shot blocked.
Chelsea controlled the game for the last ten or so minutes, and it was nervous times for the Arsenal back-four. In the 89th minute, the ball found the back of the net after it rebounded off the post. The goal didn't stand as the majority of the Chelsea team was offside in the Arsenal box.
The final whistle was blown and Arsenal fans could once again begin to breathe. Arsenal overcame their hoodoo and the match finished with Arsenal topping Chelsea 3-1 at the Emirates, grabbing all three points.
Are Arsenal the 'real deal', can they go on to win the Premier League?
Lukas Fabianski, 7: Could do little about the goal. But was assured in possession when called upon throughout the match.
Bacary Sagna, 7.5: Whipped in a few nice crosses from the wing. All in all, a good performance from the Frenchman.
Laurent Koscielny and Johan Djourou, 8: Together the centre-half pairing were able to keep the ever lurking presence of Drogba quite. Koscielny was beaten by Ivanovic with the goal. But overall both were very good cutting out chances and smothering opportunities.
Gaël Clichy, 7.5: Offensively his link-up play with Nasri and Fabregas was superb. Many of the Arsenal chances stemmed from the left hand side. Despite a wayward header or two, he was good defensively. Lucky not to be punished when caught in possession in the first half. Great performance overall.
Alex Song, 8.5: Scored the first goal. Was disciplined enough to stay back and assist the defense. His performance against Chelsea was seen as vital before the match. He passed with flying colours.
Jack Wilshere, 7.5: For an 18-year-old, playing against world-class players like Essien and Lampard, he held his head very well. Excellent distribution and never shied from a tackle. If you think he's good now, just imagine in a couple of years.
Cesc Fabregas, 8: His first start since his return from injury was graced with a goal. As per usual, Fabregas was the cog in midfield which kept things ticking over nicely.
Samir Nasri, 7.5: Always offered an avenue when attacking. Came close a number of times. Linked up well with various teammates and was always a threat whether he was shooting or setting up other players.
Theo Walcott, 8.5: First half: quiet. Second half: amazing. Scored one; assisted one: exactly what you want from the winger. Ran all over Ashley Cole, who was yellow carded early on. Sublime performance overall. His pace constantly tested the back-line of Chelsea, who never seemed comfortable when he was on.
Robin van Persie, 7: Drifted in and out of the match. Wasn't himself and was a threat in the first half but missed some opportunities. It's good to have him back, to say the least.
Abou Diaby, 7: Made his long awaited return from injury. Switched for Theo Walcott to shore up the defense. Should have perhaps done better when given the chance to score.
Marouane Chamakh, 6.5: Was brought on in the 76th minute, almost as a defensive move by Wenger to protect the Arsenal lead from set plays.
Tomas Rosicky, 6: Brought on simply to waste time, and to take Fabregas out of the firing line of any frustrated Chelsea players.
Overall Performance, 8: Arsenal played well as a team, created chances and were able to convert some of them. As a whole, Arsenal was solid and by no means kicked off the park. They can hold their heads high after this result, and hopefully the morale that they will gain from this win can propel them to new heights.
With all of that said, a bit more communication would be good, especially in the defensive department, where Arsenal nearly had to pay for some mishaps.
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