Odegaard double lifts Arsenal past Chelsea and back to top of table
Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard scored a first-half brace as Arsenal cruised to victory over Chelsea to keep their Premier League title hopes alive.
With an avalanche of Arsenal pressure in the first half, the Gunners could have been more than the three goals to the good they were at the break.
The first two came from Granit Xhaka passes from the left which found Odegaard in the area with one finish in off the crossbar and the other inside the bottom right corner.
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Hapless Chelsea defending allowed Gabriel Jesus to squeeze a third inside the near post before the break and further humiliation seemed likely for the Blues.
Instead, after withstanding some early pressure, they performed fairly creditably after the break, with Noni Madueke reducing the arrears midway through the half, though there was never any belief the visitors would get back into the game.
The win puts Arsenal two points clear of Manchester City at the top of the table, having played two games more.
Chelsea have now lost their last six games in a row in all competitions.
Should Thiago Silva have been made temporary Chelsea manager? – It is striking the respect Thiago Silva is held in, even by opposition. Both Bukayo Saka and Gabriel checked on him after hurting the 38-year-old, the former by barging into the advertising hoardings and the latter with an inadvertent headbutt. And if anyone worried about whether he would be prepared to lay down the law to his team-mates then the dressing down he gave Ben Chilwell after the second goal answered this.
Though just six years younger than Frank Lampard, they seem from different eras and maybe the first player-coach since Ryan Giggs (perhaps assisted by Claude Makelele, currently on the Chelsea staff) might have provoked a better reaction from the side. Regardless, whether it is Mauricio Pochettino or someone else in charge, they will continue to lean heavily on Silva even as he enters his 40th year, as even with the rest of the team in tatters his professionalism shines.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Martin Odegaard (Arsenal) – The midfielder’s two fantastic strikes decided the game but even without these his performance shone brightest. After the drubbing at the Etihad, it would have been understandable if Arsenal lost some of their zest, but Odegaard and his wingman Saka ensured this was not the case, pushing their beleaguered opponents on the back foot from the start.
Arsenal: Ramsdale 7; White 7, Kiwior 7, Gabriel 7, Zinchenko 6; Odegaard 8*, Jorginho 7, Xhaka 7; Saka 7, Jesus 7, Trossard 6.
Subs: Martinelli 5, Tierney 6, Nelson 6, Holding, Partey.
Chelsea: Kepa 6; Azpilicueta 5, Fofana 6, Silva 7, Chilwell 6; Kante 6, Fernandez 6, Kovacic 6; Madueke 7, Aubameyang 4, Sterling 5.
Subs: Havertz 6, Gallagher 5, Murdryk 6, Ziyech 6. Chalobah.
18′ GOAL FOR ARSENAL! Xhaka crossed for Odegaard just inside the penalty area and he curled an effort which Kepa could only tap against the underside of the crossbar and over the line.
24′ FINE STOP FROM RAMSDALE! Chilwell brushed off the challenge of Saka and drove into the area before lashing a shot towards the corner but Ramsdale made a full length save diving to his left.
31′ GOAL FOR ARSENAL! Another goal for Odegaard and one more assist from Xhaka. This time the cross was drilled at the penalty spot and the Arsenal skipper met it with a side foot into the bottom corner.
34′ GOAL FOR ARSENAL! This is so embarrassing. White’s cross was controlled by Jesus and he then could play a short ball back to Xhaka and after his shot was blocked Jesus shot inside the near post.
53′ SAKA SQUARES TO XHAKA ON EDGE OF AREA! He gets the ball out of his feet and shoots to the corner which Kepa saves diving to his right.
65′ GOAL FOR CHELSEA! They have scored. And it is Madueke. He controls a ball over the top from Fernandez with his right foot then slips the ball past Ramsdale with his left.
- 39 – Chelsea have half the number of points of Arsenal in the Premier League this season.
- 14 – The number of league goals Odegaard has scored this season, double his tally of last year.
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