Chelsea 4-1 Arsenal: 5 Talking Points and Tactical Analysis
The first half was an extremely tough watch for the neutrals with neither side willing to grab the bull by the horns. Both teams sparred and waited for the other to commit a mistake. However, nothing of the sort materialized and the sides went in level at the break.
The 2nd half saw Chelsea find an extra offensive gear and they dented the Gunners in the 49th minute. Emerson controlled a pass on the left channel and whipped in a cross for Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman stooped down and wonderfully guided his header beyond the reach of Petr Cech.
Ten minutes later, Pedro doubled the Blues’ lead when he latched onto an Eden Hazard cut-back. A few minutes later, Ainsley Maitland-Niles conceded a silly penalty to hand Hazard the chance to triple the lead in the 65th minute. The Belgian made no mistake and coolly converted his spot-kick.
Arsenal did pull a goal back in the 69th minute courtesy Alex Iwobi. However, that merely acted as a consolation rather than a catalyst for a comeback.
In the 72nd minute, Hazard applied further gloss to the score-line as he stroked home an inch-perfect lofted pass from Giroud.
Here is a look at the talking points from the game:
#5 Olivier Giroud comes back to haunt Arsenal
Olivier Giroud came into the game having made the net bulge on 10 previous occasions in the Europa League. Thus, the onus was on the Frenchman to carry forward his rich vein of form. Yet, with Arsenal, his former club, lying in wait, many were sceptical if he could actually come up with something of note.
Giroud started the game sluggishly as he was outnumbered on several occasions by the Gunners’ centre backs. However, akin to Chelsea, he grew into the game and came into his own in the 2nd half.
In the 49th minute, the Frenchman superbly escaped the attention of Laurent Koscielny and flung himself towards the ball. The forward’s run dovetailed with Emerson’s cross and he arched his neck perfectly to send the ball fizzing past Cech.
He popped up with an assist later in the game when a sumptuous clipped ball set up Hazard for the final goal. In addition, he was also the player who drew the foul that led to the penalty for Chelsea’s third goal.
To supplement his end product, he worked tirelessly throughout the game and put in a real shift. Moreover, he functioned as the ideal target man and enabled Chelsea to beat the Arsenal press by pinging long balls towards him.
Thus, the Frenchman hugely contributed to the Blues’ success and in the process, hurt his former employers when it mattered most.
In January 2018, Giroud was shipped to Chelsea to fund the arrival of Aubameyang and better times. And incredibly on Wednesday, the ex-Arsenal man ended up consigning the Gunners to another season of Europe’s second tier competition.
Football can really be funny at times!