Arsenal and Chelsea battled once more in the first of two derbies this season. Each team took to the field with 10 points on five matches. It didn’t take long for the Gunners to take over the match early with two goals inside fifteen minutes. Antonio Conte could only watch the implosion. With the 3-nil win, Arsenal moved into third in the league table.
Scintillating Arsenal Beat Chelsea Easily
Sanchez Proving Wenger Right
Alexis Sanchez was brilliant for much of the dismantling of Chelsea’s defence today. His hallmark work rate was on full display in the first goal. Sanchez stole the ball from Gary Cahill after a poor decision had the Chelsea centre back needing to get it back to Thibaut Courtois. Sanchez was in alone and neatly chipped it in.
Originally out of necessity, Sanchez was utilized as a number nine with first choice striker Olivier Giroud out. But after a few strong performances, including today, He is quickly becoming a very good option for Wenger. To his credit, the manager has always contested that Sanchez is a natural fit as a central striker. While Arsenal are pressing, Sanchez is utlized well as a number nine.
Many speculated who would start deep in Arsenal’s midfield. Many fans were left puzzled at how the club’s 35-million pound prize, Granit Xhaka, was left on the bench. Regardless, Francis Coquelin was announced to the starting XI, likely because of chemistry he has built with Santi Cazorla. After a solid start, the Frenchman picked up an apparent knee injury after 30 minutes. He was substituted for Xhaka, which shows the welcomed problem Arsene Wenger has right now in his midfield selection. More information will be released after the match regarding his fitness.
On Walcott and Iwobi
Theo Walcott and Alex Iwobi have started in Arsenal’s attack several times this season. Walcott has been ridiculed at times in his career for ‘disappearing’ in matches. However, his form of late has been anything but that. Timely runs have been a hallmark of his career in London, but with such competition these days for starting spots, he is playing with renewed energy. His pace continues to pose problems for slower full backs. And when paired with the exuberance and brilliant footwork of a very surprising young Alex Iwobi, the pair have been fantastic.
Frustrated, Frustrated Chelsea
John Terry didn’t start. Much was made of the absence of the club’s captain through the media, and it was most certainly validated on the pitch. But what about Gary Cahill? Is Chelsea’s centre back not more than capable to providing the veteran voice and instilling calmness? What about the myriad of other experienced players who could have calmed things down?
Chelsea were weak defensively, but it wasn’t just their defenders. In the Walcott goal, Eden Hazard allowed Hector Bellerin to drift too far away from him. When Iwobi received a pass and then fed Bellerin wide open at the edge of the box, he could only watch it unfold. Bellerin one-touched a pass into Walcott who found the back of the net. This was a poor effort defensively for the team.
It is also worth noting that the club’s first shot on target didn’t come until the 84th minute. Diego Costa was inventive at times, but he was an island unto himself.
Main image credit: