October 29, 2011 – the last time Arsenal tasted victory over Chelsea, when Robin Van Persie had a field day, scoring a delightful hat-trick at Stamford Bridge. The Gunners fans have had to wait nearly five years to taste the joy of victory over their London rivals again, but boy was it worth it.
This was Arsenal at their best; at their harrying best; at their pressing best; at their slickest best; at their attacking best; at their defensive best. Everywhere you looked, there was an Arsenal player having a wonderful game, while a Chelsea player floundered, looking a little lost and worried.
That was evident in the 11th minute, when Alexis Sanchez, the tireless Arsenal warrior, pressed Gary Cahill, took the ball off him with ridiculous ease and then produced a drool-inducing chip over Thibaut Courtois.
Two minutes and 19 seconds later, Arsenal were 2-0 up, thanks to a how-beautiful-is-that move. Alex Iwobi, belying his 20 years every time he puts on an Arsenal shirt, and Mesut Ozil played a one-two just outside the box, before the Nigerian found Hector Bellerin in space on the right. Such was the pace of the pass that the fullback could play a first-time pass to Theo Walcott, who had the simple task of tapping the ball in.
Arsenal, who lost Francis Coquelin to injury on the half hour, were now in the mood, Chelsea like a deer caught in the headlights. It was just a matter of when the next goal would come rather than if, even considering Arsenal’s penchant for over-elaboration. The game-is-definitely-done goal came in the 40th minute, with Ozil putting his stamp on the game, after starting the move.
A you’ve-got-to-GIF-it turn that left the best defensive midfielder in the league – N’Golo Kante – for dead opened up the counter-attack, Ozil ran forward, slipped a pass through, perfectly timed of course, to Sanchez, who chipped the ball back for the German. The ball came perfectly to smash on the volley, and while Ozil did not hit it cleanly, he struck it well enough for the ball to bounce over Courtois, hit the side of the post and nestle into the net.
With the result as good as done, the second half was about Chelsea regaining some pride and Arsenal, if they wanted to, rubbing salt into the gaping Blue wounds.
They could have done that too, with the home side looking like scoring every time they sprang on the counter. Ozil could have had his second, so could Sanchez and so could Walcott, who forced a brilliant save from Courtois, but in the end, 3-0 was enough, more than enough.
EPL results: Manchester United 4-1 Leicester City; Swansea City 1-3 Manchester City; Middlesbrough 1-2 Tottenham; Bournemouth 1-0 Everton; Liverpool 5-1 Hull City; Stoke City 1-1 West Brom; Sunderland 2-3 Crystal Palace; Arsenal 3-0 Chelsea.