Arsenal Regains Control of the Champions League with a Shock 4-2 Victory over Chelsea.

Arsenal Regains Control of the Champions League with a Shock 4-2 Victory over Chelsea.

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21 Apr 2022
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Nick
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On the field and in the crowd, it was all Arsenal towards the end as former Blues youngster Eddie Nketiah nets twice at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea have now conceded 11 goals in their previous three games at Stamford Bridge, resulting in three straight defeats in all competitions. They aren’t used to losing around here, never alone at home. This club urgently requires a new owner, a new direction, and a new owner quickly.

Even so, after so much mediocrity, at least one club appears to be vying for the final Champions League slot. Arsenal seized the lead three times on Wednesday night, and the third time they didn’t just maintain it, but increased it.

The best team won, and Arteta’s risky choice of Eddie Nketiah as his striker paid off with two well-taken goals. The player he replaced, Alexandre Lacazette, is believed to be pining for the Champions League, as if he has no control over it. Nketiah paved the road for him.

Many of Arsenal’s young players felt the same way. Nketiah, Bakayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, Aaron Ramsdale, and Emile Smith-Rowe are the team’s heart and soul. Build around them and then expand from there. Arsenal’s future lies with its young forwards, notably late substitute Gabriel Martinelli.

Tuchel will be equally unhappy that he played his £90 million striker for the first league game since February 19, and Arsenal posed the better goal threat. After 11 minutes, Romelu Lukaku had one notable shot and didn’t quite make it to the hour before being substituted by Kai Havertz.

In the second half, even Tuchel was curiously depressed, sunk in his seat while Arteta became more agitated, on the verge of a major triumph.

Arsenal’s night was over in the final minute, when Cesar Azpilicueta pushed Bakayo Saka to the ground and referee Moss correctly gave a penalty. Saka took the kick himself, sending Mendy in the opposite direction. It was just what the guests deserved.

Arsenal led for 42 minutes until the game was tied for the remaining 48 minutes. Chelsea never had a lead, not even for a minute, and Arsenal outplayed Chelsea in either half. Although we’ve seen a lot of such under Arteta, their jubilation at the end suggested this could be a turning point.

The first half was a flurry of activity. Two goals for each side in the first 32 minutes, with defensive catastrophe abounding. It used to be that a Chelsea striker would bully Arsenal into submission in this match — Didier Drogba, Diego Costa, even Lukaku – but times have changed. Arsenal have a little more about them than Lukaku, who is a weak replica of his prior self. Sometimes, at least.

It was a game that got off to a fast start, even if it wasn’t always sure where it was going. Chelsea had the upper hand at the start, but after 13 minutes, disaster struck. Following a powerful punt upfield, Christensen and Nketiah were hot on their tails, with the Chelsea man arriving first and with plenty of time. Remember, he’s on his way to Barcelona this summer, where he’ll need to work on his footwork.

What a shambles he’s made of it. It should have been a straightforward ball back to Mendy, but Christensen panicked and deflected it sideways off his shin, leaving Nketiah with a one-on-one match with the astonished Mendy. He ended brilliantly, the first of several victories for Arteta, who had chosen him over Alexandre Lacazette, who had struggled.

Mind you, it didn’t last long. Chelsea were level after the following onslaught, and Arteta will have been dissatisfied with what he saw. At the very least, Christensen’s mistake was a complete blunder. This was sloppily done. Granit Xhaka was caught off guard by Mohamed Elneny’s underhit square pass, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek picked his pocket.

Timo Werner was fed, and he cut inside and shot. By then, Xhaka had recovered but flinched at a crucial moment, moving his head slightly, causing the ball to strike him and divert past Ramsdale. Arsenal’s advantage lasted just four minutes.

Arsenal has regained the advantage. Alonso lost possession in a central position high up the field, meaning he was completely out of place for Arsenal’s counter-attack down the right. Saka found Odegaard, who rolled the ball into Smith-path Rowe’s as if passing it into the net from the penalty area’s edge.

It was a goal reminiscent of Arsene Wenger’s golden years. They’d still be airing it on Sky if it had been Robert Pires to Dennis Bergkamp and into the path of Thierry Henry.

They also took the lead for a lengthier period of time this time: five minutes. That’s when Mount dispossessed Ben White and crossed for Azpilicueta, who made a late, well-timed run and finished like a natural goal scorer, defeating Ramsdale. Arsenal screamed bloody murder at a foul on White, but VAR Darren England was skeptical.

Arsenal, on the other hand, were not behaving like a side on the cusp of their worst league run in 27 years. Nketiah went just wide in the 33rd minute, while Smith-fantastic Rowe’s dribble finished in another near effort shortly before halftime. Tuchel had had his fill. As Christensen’s performance became increasingly jittery, the crowd began to sing for Thiago Silva, and at halftime, he delivered them what they wanted. Silva replaces Christensen. It didn’t make any difference.

Arsenal took the lead for the final time in the 57th minute. This was the epicenter of the blunder. It would be simpler to name the Chelsea players who did not contribute to the goal.

A squandered pass in midfield, a left-wing cross that was not dealt with, numerous chances to clear that were lost, and a mix-up that threw the ball into Nketiah’s path. Chelsea was chasing once more.

They couldn’t claw it back this time. There were a few clashes and peeks, but nothing significant. The years 2022-23 cannot come soon enough for this club. Arsenal will be looking ahead after this as well, but in a far shorter time frame, as Manchester United is up next.

 

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