English Premiership

Arsenal thump Chelsea

2010-12-28 06:55
Alex Song (AP)

London - Arsenal scored three goals in 10 minutes to overwhelm defending Premier League champion Chelsea 3-1 on Monday and keep the pressure on unbeaten leader Manchester United in the title race.

Alex Song, Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott found the net for Arsenal, which last beat Chelsea in November 2008 and hadn't previously scored against the same opponent since May 2009.

Despite Branislav Ivanovic pulling one back by heading in Didier Drogba's free kick in the 57th minute, Chelsea couldn't come back against a team it had beaten in their last five matches in all competitions.

"We concentrated on pressing, everyone was pressing - we didn't give Chelsea any space at all," Walcott said. "Everything went well. We made Chelsea look average at times. We played some great football and wanted to do it for the fans, because in recent years against Chelsea we've been disappointing."

Arsenal goes to Wigan on Wednesday two points behind United in second place, while Chelsea is six points off the lead and has slipped to fourth just behind Manchester City.

"The result had a double impact," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. "Mathematically, it keeps us in touch with the leaders of the league, and psychologically it was important. We were questioned about our capability of winning big games."

The win ends Arsenal's miserable run against United and Chelsea, who have shared the Premier League trophy between them since the Gunners lifted it in 2004. Arsenal had previously failed to beat either team in their last 11 encounters in all competitions.

But the loss compounds the problems facing Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti, whose side began with five wins in succession but has now failed to win in the league since November 10.

"We're in a difficult moment," Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti said, seven months after his side won the league and FA Cup. "The table is not good but this is the reality. We have to wake up. Now we are sleeping."

Chelsea did, however, come close to breaking the deadlock after eight minutes through Drogba's wide attempt. But the visitors then struggled to impose themselves in the first half, even with midfielder Frank Lampard making his first start since August.

They did stubbornly prevent Arsenal from getting close to Petr Cech's goal despite all its intricate linkup play. Cech wasn't tested until Samir Nasri sent a tame, dipping free kick at the goalkeeper in the 22nd minute.

When Walcott broke free down the right flank four minutes later, Robin van Persie's failure to support the winger meant the attack came to nothing.

Likewise, Van Persie could have done with a team-mate in front of goal instead of blasting over from a tight angle following a neat interchange between Fabregas and Nasri.

A deft chip from Nasri was heading for the top corner in the 41st before being tipped over by Cech.

Arsenal finally had something to show for its attacking bombardment in the 44th. Jack Wilshere slipped the ball into the penalty area, and Fabregas nudged it to Song as he was being fouled by Paulo Ferreira, allowing the Cameroon midfielder to shoot into the bottom corner.

Arsenal could have led by more by halftime, with its domination failing to spark a reaction from Chelsea. However, the hosts completed a sweeping move six minutes after the break to make it 2-0.

Walcott seized the ball after Michael Essien had inadvertently given it away, running forward before releasing Fabregas, who tapped it into an empty net.

Walcott and Fabregas combined again inside two minutes for the third. This time, Walcott snatched the ball off Florent Malouda and sent it to Fabregas, whose return pass allowed the England winger to score.

"We have been disciplined, mature and played for each other," Wenger said. "The focus of the team was good, even when we had to be less adventurous at some stages ... let's hope that it strengthens our belief that we can challenge for the championship and it strengthens our belief we're on the right way."

Chelsea is heading in the wrong direction, a massive reversal in fortunes since holding a five-point lead in the standings at the start of November.

"Arsenal put more quality on the pitch than us," Ancelotti said. "The second half, we conceded two goals in two minutes and it was difficult to come back into the game. They played better than us.

"Our difficult moment continues and we have to think about the next game against Bolton (on Wednesday). It's not easy, but we have to try."

Read more on:    epl  |  alex song  |  cesc fabregas  |  theo walcott  |  arsenal
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