London, Jan. 19, 2019 (Reuters/NAN)
Arsenal revived their hopes of a top-four finish in the 2018/2019 English Premier League (EPL) by securing a comfortable 2-0 derby win at home to toothless Chelsea on Saturday.
First half goals by Alexandre Lacazette and Laurent Koscielny gave the Gunners the win which helped to cut the gap between them and Chelsea to three points.
Chelsea’s lack of punch in the final third of the pitch was evident again as they enjoyed 64 percent of possession without ever really threatening to unlock Arsenal’s defence.
Arsenal were far sharper as an attacking force and deserved more than Lacazette’s superb 14th-minute effort and skipper Koscielny’s scruffy goal in a scintillating opening period.
But those goals, and a resolute defensive display after the break, proved enough to give Arsenal only their third home league win against Chelsea in 10 years.
It also meant that they moved back into fifth place on goal difference with 44 points, three behind fourth-placed Chelsea.
“Today we needed to win. We made a mistake last week (at West Ham). So, today’s game was a six-pointer,” Koscielny said.
“If we lose we will be nine points (off Chelsea) and if we win the gap will be just three points.’’
When the ball was played in Koscielny was unmarked but he mistimed his header, only for the ball to spin off his shoulder and beyond the reach of Chelsea’s goalkeeper.
Arsenal restricted Chelsea in the second half as the visitors enjoyed the lion’s share of possession without ever opening up Arsenal’s defence.
Not even the introduction of former Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud, cheered by the home crowd, could liven up Chelsea’s blunt attack.
Chelsea attack has now managed six goals fewer than any other top-six side this season.
The one sour note for Arsenal was the sight of Spanish right back Hector Bellerin leaving the field on a stretcher with what appeared to be a knee injury.