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Arsenal 3 Chelsea 1: Gunners keep Premier League title hopes alive after first-half demolition of dismal Blues

AS Arsenal rose back to the Premier League summit for 24 hours, the most pressing question at the Emirates was ‘Just how low can Chelsea go?’

Because how is it actually possible to have spent £600million in a year on a football team as bad as this one? 

Two goals from Martin Odegaard saw Arsenal ease past Chelsea 3-1

The Blues have now lost six games in a row under Frank Lampard

Arsenal’s faint title hopes remain alive after a much-needed win

The Gunners ended their four-match barren run in style

Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal reign was given lift-off by an FA Cup Final victory over Frank Lampard’s Blues in 2020.

And here Arteta was given another major morale boost by Lampard’s Chelsea, whose ill-judged decision to take the interim job has sent his beloved club into an extraordinary tailspin. 

Martin Odegaard’s first-half double and a Gabriel Jesus strike had Arsenal done and dusted by half-time as they halted the four-match winless run which will surely cost them the title.   

Manchester City, who have two games in hand on Arsenal, will expect to regain top spot at home to West Ham tomorrow – but at least a convenient visit from Chelsea meant that the Gunners’ campaign has not completely fizzled out.

They showed a gutsy reaction to last week’s 4-1 hammering at the Etihad but this had far more to do with Chelsea’s shoddiness than Arsenal’s class.  

When Todd Boehly & Co took over last summer, Chelsea were world champions. 

But after nine months of chronic mismanagement – and with matches against Newcastle and both Manchester clubs still to come – they could finish as London’s lowest Premier League club and in the bottom six of the final table. 

It is no exaggeration to say that if they had sacked Graham Potter a month earlier, Chelsea might have been relegated. 


Lampard’s return has been an unmitigated disaster. Six straight defeats and just two goals doesn’t tell the half of it. 

As Arsenal ran riot for the opening hour, where was Chelsea’s willingness to track back? To take personal responsibility? To go into challenges as if they at least wished to avoid further embarrassment?  

Lampard, playing ‘Frankie bingo dot com’ with his vast squad again, gave Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang his first start in six months, since the last time the Blues faced the Gunners. 

Aubameyang won that 2020 FA Cup Final for Arteta – allowing the Gunners boss sufficient credit to ride out a serious storm the following season – yet ended up being spectacularly bombed out after a series of disciplinary breaches. 

The Gabonese striker lasted only until half-time here and barely had a kick. 

Martin Odegaard gave Arsenal an early lead

The Arsenal captain has been in stellar form this season

Arteta handed former Chelsea man Jorginho a first Premier League start in two months, in place of Thomas Partey. 

Leandro Trossard also came in for Gabriel Martinelli and Polish centre-half Jakub Kiwior was handed a full league debut in place of Rob Holding, who’d suffered a major Haalanding at the Etihad last week. 

For 18 minutes, it was very much as billed – a clash between one thoroughly-demoralised team and one shell-shocked side.

Chelsea sat deep, Arsenal were stodgy, lacking the zip and verve they had possessed for most of the season. 

Odegaard made it 2-0 with a clever finish

Chelsea’s flops held a serious inquest after going two down

Bukayo Saka had a header pushed out by Kepa Arrizabalaga but the opener arrived like a bolt from the blue.

Xhaka squared a pass which £106million Enzo Fernandez seemed to deliberately allow through his legs and Odegaard netted with a fierce, first-time, left-footed long-ranger which Kepa could only tip on to the underside of the bar.

Chelsea briefly woke up, Ben Chilwell beating Saka to a loose ball and forcing Aaron Ramsdale to turn wide. 

But Arsenal might have had a penalty when Wesley Fofana appeared to handle a Trossard shot Fofana handball. 

Gabriel Jesus made sure of the result with a third before half-time

Chelsea were left humiliated at the home of their London rivals

Any sense of injustice was swiftly forgotten when Arsenal doubled their lead just after the half-hour – and Chelsea should have been aware of the drill.

Another square ball from Xhaka, another first-time left-footed shot from Odegaard, this time Thiago Silva and Raheem Sterling appearing to leave marking duties to one another.

It was the Arsenal captain’s 14th goal of an excellent season. Erling Haaland is not the only Norwegian rattling them in this league.

Noni Madueke pulled one back for the Blues in the second half

It was too little, too late for the visitors

The chants of ‘Chelsea get battered everywhere they go’ had only just begun when Arsenal added a third. 

Ben White centred from the right, Jesus won a header, Xhaka had a shot blocked before Jesus turned it in at the back post with four Chelsea players floundering in the vicinity. 

Lampard looked almost tearful on the bench – and that was before thousands of home fans started mocking chants of ‘Super Frankie Lampard’.

It was an utter embarrassment for the Blues but Arsenal had welcomed the invitation to regain their spark.  

Mikel Arteta was delighted to see Arsenal go back to the top of the table

Frank Lampard’s miserable run continued in the Chelsea dugout

After Aubameyang was hooked in favour of Kai Havertz, Arsenal continued to surge forward.

Gabriel had a header hacked off the line by Thiago and Xhaka’s shot was turned wide by Kepa.

Arsenal should have been out of sight by the time Chelsea scored midway through the second half, Mateo Kovavic’s lofted ball scuffed home by Noni Madueke. 

Suddenly, Chelsea seemed to fancy it and it began to get nervous around the Emirates. 

Mykhailo Mudryk, the man Chelsea gazumped Arsenal for in January, came on and added to the sense of impending dread.

Arsenal had tossed away seemingly-comfortable leads against Liverpool and West Ham but they weren’t going to do it again. Not against this rabble.