Eden Hazard scored a sublime solo goal as
Premier League leaders Chelsea thrust a
dagger into Arsenal’s title aspirations with a
3-1 victory at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

The Belgian winger left a trail of defenders in
his wake to double Chelsea’s lead in the 53rd
minute, in between a contentious header by
Marcos Alonso and a late lob from Arsenal
old boy Cesc Fabregas.

It was Chelsea’s 11th home victory in
succession and their 16th win in 18 league
games, stretching their lead over third-place
Arsenal to a huge 12 points with 14 games of
the season remaining.

Chelsea have been close to unplayable since
Antonio Conte changed their system during
their 3-0 loss at Arsenal on September 24 and
it seems only a matter of time until they are
crowned champions.

For Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who
watched from the stands as he served the
third game of a four-match touchline ban, his
side’s season is following a wearily familiar
pattern.
Arsenal have lost their last five games at the
Bridge and had conceded 13 unanswered
goals prior to Olivier Giroud’s stoppage-time
consolation.

They have lost four of their last nine league
games and once again face the prospect of a
run-in given suspense only by the tussle for
Champions League places.
With a raft of midfielders unavailable,
Wenger was obliged to start with Alex
Oxlade-Chamberlain alongside Francis
Coquelin in the middle, while Theo Walcott
replaced Giroud in attack.

Arsenal had conceded two goals in the first 13
minutes of Tuesday’s 2-1 loss at home to
Watford.

They almost caught Chelsea cold here, Alex
Iwobi curling wide after Thibaut Courtois
overhit a pass towards David Luiz.
But after Gary Cahill had headed into the
ground and over the bar at the other end,
Chelsea went ahead in the 13th minute with a
goal that left Arsenal fans fuming.
Pedro sent a cross into the box from the
right that Diego Costa headed against the bar
at the near post, sending the ball spinning
into the air.

As Hector Bellerin got himself in position to
head it away, and with Walcott watching on
impassively, Alonso flew in, cleaning his
fellow Spaniard out with his forearm and
heading the ball home.
Referee Martin Atkinson allowed the goal to
stand and Arsenal’s disappointment was
compounded by the sight of a dazed Bellerin
being led down the tunnel, with Gabriel
taking his place.
Chelsea were buoyant, Costa driving a shot
into the side-netting and Pedro forcing Petr
Cech to push the ball behind from Alonso’s
accurate cut-back.

But Arsenal ended the first half strongly,
Courtois producing a stunning one-handed
save to turn Gabriel’s header over the bar
and then dropping onto a tame effort by
Mesut Ozil.
It took a last-ditch tackle by Laurent
Koscielny to prevent Hazard scampering clear
early in the second half, but when the
Chelsea number 10 picked up the ball in the
53rd minute, there was no getting it back.
After striding onto a loose ball in the centre
circle, he beat Koscielny, shrugged off
Coquelin, leaving him flat on his back, and
then outfoxed Koscielny again before
squeezing a shot past Cech.

On the touchline, Conte celebrated with
characteristic abandon.

There were flickers from Arsenal, Courtois
clawing away a deft header from substitute
Danny Welbeck, before Fabregas lobbed in
from 25 yards after Cech shanked the ball
straight to him.

Giroud reduced the arrears, heading in from
Nacho Monreal’s cross.


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