It's about time. Arsenal finally lay their big-club, big-game ghosts to rest, beating Chelsea 3-1 at the Emirates tonight. The Gunners outplayed, outhustled, and outlasted their London rivals in a thriller of a game, and Wenger's men deserved all three points. That's some late Christmas present!
In what was billed as a make or break game for my boys, Arsenal delivered and in some style too. I have no idea what the commentators were smoking in the first half, who seemed to think the Gunners were feeling their way into the game, as it was Arsenal who in fact dominated from the beginning. Apart from a Drogba snapshot in something like the 7th minute, Chelsea hardly had a sniff. Arsenal were controlling the game quite nicely but still had some trouble breaking down that stubborn Chelsea back line. Nasri's delightful chip nearly caught Petr Cech off his line but the keeper was too alert to the ambitious attempt. It was just before half time that Arsenal made the crucial breakthrough, when Alex Song latched onto the ball in the box and slid it just beyond Cech's reach to make it 1-0. When Fabregas was tripped in the box, I thought for sure we'd have a penalty, but before I knew what had really happened Song had picked up the ball and scored. A perfect time to score.
Arsenal didn't waste time trying to put the game to bed, as they soon doubled their lead after half time. The pressure from our midfield was terrific all game and it paid off in the 51st minute when van Persie managed to win the ball, which Essien accidentally played into Walcott's path, who bore down on goal before playing the ball into Cesc's path who had the easy job of tapping into an empty net. Just like that it was 2-0 but things got even better for the Gunners. Two minutes later, more pressure in the midfield brought us a reward. Fabregas, who had a game reminiscent of his finest days (not quite 100%, but he's getting there), dinked the ball through the panicked Chelsea defence into Walcott, who dispatched the ball past Cech with sublime skill to make it 3-0 and game over. It was a brilliant finish from Theo, who made a rare start and rewarded the manager's faith with a fantastic performance. Nearly every Gunner on the pitch played a blinder, but praise must be given to Djourou, Wilshere, Cesc and Theo in particular.
Chelsea tried to stop the game becoming a rout when Ivanovic headed home from a set piece but it was enough not enough to force the Blues back into the game, as they ultimately sunk to defeat. This victory should provide Wenger and his team with immense confidence, as they finally break that horrible 'Arsenal can't beat the big teams' hoodoo, and pile on the pain for Ancelotti's Chelsea. The Gunners now need to press on from this outstanding result and ride the momentum onto bigger and better things... like a league title.
Thanks for reading.