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Walcott Inspires Gunners Rout


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Arsenal 3-1 Chelsea FC

Monday 27 December 2010, the FA Premier League League, the Emirates

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Chelsea's crisis took a turn for the worse as Arsenal compounded their woes with a comfortable victory at the Emirates.

Alex Song, Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott all scored as Arsene Wenger's men finally beat one of their title rivals for the first time in eleven attempts to move ahead of Manchester City into second place. For Chelsea, on the other hand, the rot continues as the Blues' winless run in the Premier League stretches to six matches.

Carlo Ancelotti's side are now six points behind Premier League leaders Manchester United - who also have a game in hand over the defending champions - and their title ambitions now seem to be all but extinct considering their current predicament; the Blues have now gone five weeks without a victory in all competitions and their below-par performances are failing to offer any minute sense of encouragement.

Even Branislav Ivanovic's header on the hour failed to spark any sort of a comeback - with Chelsea having 15 days to prepare for this fixture thanks to the postponement of their clash with United, the Blues were supposed to be full of renewed fitness and vigour, but instead the visiting fans were put through 90 minutes of below-par football and an infuriating lack of commitment and desire.

The damage was done in the space of the 11 minutes either side of half-time as Chelsea's defensive flaws were all exposed by a ruthless Arsenal performance. Though a great deal of misfortune failed to help Chelsea return to winning ways, even Didier Drogba failed to trouble the Gunners despite his sublime record against Arsene Wenger's side and Chelsea were second-best to a side that deserved to take the three points.

The road to recovery had been paved by a superb second half fightback at Tottenham - the cornerstone had been laid and Chelsea were supposed to be back to their best after the opportunity to rest had been gratefully received. Instead, the Blues' woes have only been exacerbated and Carlo Ancelotti will be thankful that Chelsea's encounter with Sir Alex Ferguson's table-toppers has been postponed until March, as they would have only been beaten judging by current form.

But Chelsea fans should not jump to too many conclusions. Whilst the result is a damaging one it does not absolutely condemn Chelsea to failure in their bid to retain their Premier League title - chances of a successive championship are now improbable but not impossible. A worst run of form in 14 years will come as a greater concern to Ancelotti however, and the way in which Chelsea capitulated inside three second half minutes thanks to woeful individual errors will do nothing to ease concerns at Stamford Bridge, but FA Cup and Champions League glory are both still possibilities.

Each of the goals highlighted Chelsea's problems - the first demonstrated a lack of discipline whilst poor concentration from Michael Essien and Florent Malouda led to errors which were ultimately compounded by finishes from Fabregas and the excellent Walcott, who was a surprise selection considering his recent lack of match fitness. The England winger now has nine goals this season despite missing more than a dozen matches thus far this term, and his third goal against Chelsea finally sees Arsenal establish themselves as serious title contenders after seasons of mediocrity.

But whilst Petr Cech again prevented his team from suffering absolute embarrassment as he brilliantly denied Samir Nasri's scything free kick and then his magnificent strike from the edge of the area, as well as making a brave block at the feet of Walcott, Chelsea simply cannot rely on further heroics from their goalkeeper to stop this slump continuing.

A consolatory goal from Chelsea's number two added a slight amount of respectability to the scoreline, but not even Frank Lampard's first start since September could disguise a distinct lack of goals from Chelsea - ironic considering their blistering early season goalscoring exploits. A shocking statistic comes from the fact that Chelsea scored more goals in their first four matches this season (17) than they have in the subsequent fifteen (15).

You can analyse the key events and you can look at poor individual performances.

The fact is, Chelsea just are not good enough at the minute and are in a fight for even a Champions League place.

___________________________________________________________________

Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy; Song, Wilshere; Walcott (Diaby 72), Fábregas (Rosicky 87), Nasri. Van Persie (Chamakh 75).

Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech, Ferreira (Bosingwa 60), Ivanovic, JT © Cole; Essien, Mikel (Ramires 46), Lampard, Kalou, Drogba, Malouda (Kakuta 52).

The TalkChelsea.net Man of the Match was Arsenal's number 14, Theo Walcott

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Sadly, I have to concur with RX8; the last sentence of the report sums it up perfectly. We've been woeful at best of late, and if we keep on replicating the kind of performance we keep on witnessing at the minute, I'm afraid we may not enter next season as a club contending in the Champions League.

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