- van Persie 36, 85, 90,
- Santos 49,
- Walcott 55
Arsenal secured their fifth win of the 2011/2012 English Premier League season in emphatic style, with a 5-3 defeat of Chelsea in the London derby at Stamford Bridge.
In what was one of the most exciting, action packed and attacking fuelled encounters between the two giants, with a Robin van Persie hat-trick ultimately the difference. The Gunners continued their strong run of form, affirming the notion that they indeed are still a threat in English football.
In a match where attacking prowess was outstanding and defensive security was absent, London's two biggest sides produced some spectacular goals, whilst neither side ever looked completely secure at the back.
Chelsea broke the deadlock after 14 minutes, when England international Frank Lampard evaded Per Mertesacker as a marker and headed home. However, the Gunners were showing their predominant attacking fluency, and chances continued to arise with Gervinho and Robin van Persie failing to capitalize on easy opportunities.
However, Arsenal's attacking prowess was eventually rewarded when Wales captain Aaron Ramsey played a scintillating ball through to Gervinho, who showed composure to square away from the on-rushing Petr Cech and give Robin van Persie the simplest of finishes.
However, moments before Andre Mariner was set to blow his whistle for half-time, Andres Villas-Boas's men pounced to regain the lead. England captain John Terry took advantage of inevitable fragile set piece defending from Arsene Wenger's men to retrieve the momentum.
Arsenal returned from the break the stronger side, and soon began to exert their possession dominance. Four minutes after the restart Alexandre Song found Andre Santos out wide, who produced a composed finished. Six minutes later, Theo Walcott fell before reacting the quickest to break the Chelsea defensive line and fire emphatically past a helpless Cech.
However, just as Arsenal appeared to have the game settled with 10 minutes remaining, Spanish dynamo Juan Mata sent a sublime long range effort into the corner after Andre Santos had lost possession.
The game looked destined to end in a draw before a harmless back pass from Florent Malouda saw John Terry fall and have Robin van Persie go one on one with Cech. The in-form Dutchman was never going to miss, and calmly rounded the Chelsea shot stopper and give Arsenal the lead with five minutes remaining.
Chelsea threw almost everyone forward which eventually lead to an Arsenal counter, where Robin van Persie ended a well worked break away to complete a marvelous hat-trick and a marvellous win.
Arsenal Player Ratings
Wojciech Szczesny:6.5: The Polish shot stopper cannot be considered at fault for any of the conceded goals, and produced some fine saves when called upon. Completed a necessary foul on Ashley Cole to receive a yellow card.
Johan Djourou:5.5: The imposing Swiss was always vulnerable playing out of position at right back, but Djourou did produce some necessary clearances and interceptions. However, there was little traction in attack.
Per Mertesacker:5.5: A frail defensive effort from the giant German. At fault for the opening two goals, and although it was a much safer performances in the second half, it was largely due to Koscielny. Questions need to be asked.
Laurent Koscielny:7: The Frenchman was a tireless, efficient presence, containing the dangerous Fernado Torres impressively. Koscielny made some vital interceptions and challenges, alongside the routine lapse in concentration.
Andre Santos:6.5: A slow start from the Brazilian, who in the first half was tormented by the Chelsea attack. However, Santos was superb in the second, scoring a well worked goal and providing security down the left. Regardless of the presence of a foul, Santos was at fault for the third goal.
Alexandre Song:7: The Cameroon international worked tirelessly as always, particularly defensively, and it aided the defensive line greatly. A pinpoint pass ensured Andre Santos could easily finish, and Song commanding an assist to his name.
Mikel Arteta:6.5: An overall strong display from the Spaniard. Arteta orchestrated the midfield well at times, but also had a tendency to drift out of the match. Nonetheless, provided some scintillating passes and runs.
Aaron Ramsey:7.5: Another high-class performance from the Welsh captain. Ramsey's passing at times was of the highest calibre, and his ability to continue working in both defence and attacking was defiant for Arsenal.
Theo Walcott:7: A rejuvenated Walcott tormented the Chelsea back line at times, alongside producing more efficient passing and crossing. At times the Englishman was anonymous, but a terrific solo goal ensured a top days work from the 22-year-old.
Gervinho:7.5: The Ivorian produced one of the misses of the season early in the first half, but continually showed his attacking ability and his composure. Gervinho's awareness to set up van Persie was sublime, and at times had Jose Bosingwa in all sorts.
Robin van Persie:8.5: Arsenal's hero, Arsenal's captain. The Dutchman never gave up and lead from the front, constantly lifting his team mates. Showed monumental composure during his hat-trick, and ultimately provided the upper-hand for the Gunners.
Carl Jenkinson:6: Arsenal fans may have cringed when the teenager was introduced but it was a calm, solid cameo from the Englishman.