Arsenal finally ended their dreadful run of results against Chelsea by thrashing the Blues by three goals to one in an enthralling contest. It was a game which they had to have a good result in order to move closer to Manchester United and also to erase their psychological barrier. Didier Drogba and Chelsea have tormented the Gunners in the recent past which has been one of the main reasons why they have not established themselves as serious title contenders in the past.
On Monday night though, it was to be the Gunners who showed the strength and determination to prove why they are serious challengers for the Premiership title. They showed the steel in midfield and were clinical in finishing. They had not scored a goal against Chelsea in their last three Premier League meetings but were able to penetrate the Chelsea defence three times by their superb play.
Prior to the game, Cesc Fabregas admitted that they were scared of losing in the big games which was one of the main reasons why they were not able to perform to their potential. It was certainly big words from the Captain and had the team failed, I am sure some fans would have said it was pessimistic from the Spaniard to say such things before the media.
But it was courageous from Fabregas to admit their mistakes in the past and it certainly had an effect on the team as they played fearlessly against the current Premier League title holders. The Spaniard has clearly not been at his best this season due to his hamstring injuries and he has looked short of match fitness on a number of occasions.
However, he was given the extra week to prepare for the Chelsea clash due to the postponement of the Stoke City game and he looked sharp from the outset of the game. He is not a vocal leader like many other captains but he certainly influences the team in a big way. He slotted into his usual attacking midfield role and dictated play in the midfield often allowing Jack Wilshere to move to a role in front of him.
Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas are certainly the two prominent leaders in this team and when they are both on the pitch, Arsenal seem to have a lot more confidence. Fabregas did misplace passes initially which was uncharacteristic of him but once he settled into the game, he was the one organising the midfield and setting the tempo of the play.
A lot of credit should be given to the defence, Johan Djourou and Laurent Koscielny in particular, for being able to make crucial interceptions and made it hard for Drogba and Chelsea to get into good positions. The team worked tirelessly to defend well and Martin Keown's support of the back four certainly was true as they looked solid when Arsenal as a team defended well.
Cesc Fabregas was immaculate in spotting his team mates in good positions and his vision, creativity and determination to succeed was one of the most important factors in deciding the match. In the Tottenham game, he looked like he as getting to his best but completely faded away in the second half. There were to be no such lapses this time as Fabregas kept working hard and he made life difficult for Chelsea.
In the lead-up to the first goal which involved Jack Wilshere and Alex Song mainly, Fabregas pulled away from Paulo Ferreira and drew a foul which should have been awarded a penalty but good refereeing from Mark Clattenberg as he allowed Alex Song to pounce on the loose ball to slot it past Petr Cech.
In the second half, Fabregas started just as influential as he was in the first and made some driving runs from midfield. Theo Walcott was through on goal and unselfishly squared it to the onrushing captain who passed the ball into an empty net to score for the first time since the game against Everton. The Spaniard returned the favour to Walcott in a space of two minutes as the duo commbined to set the Englishman through on goal. The England International has been in superb goalscoring form this season and did his chances no harm by taking his chance superbly.
Chelsea were able to claw one back but Cesc Fabregas managed to calm things down as the Gunners settled into the passing rhythm which seemed to have deserted them for a few minutes just after the goal.
The Captain had played his part to perfection, the only blemish being that he would miss the Wigan game due to suspension and was substituted to a standing ovation from the Emirates crowd. It would be a good game to miss considering that the Gunners have two tough games against Birmingham City and Manchester City coming up and Fabregas would have been adequately rested for the clashes.
Samir Nasri has been the player of the season for Arsenal and has been simply exceptional in many games. Even today when he did not have his best game, his movement and creativity caused a lot of trouble for the Blues and his sublime effort which forced Cech to make a superb save spoke volumes of his development this season. With the return to form of the leader Cesc Fabregas, it is time for the deadly duo to torment opposition defences.
Fabregas, Walcott, Song. Djourou and Koscielny all had a very good game tonight while the others had a pretty decent one. Everyone on the pitch looked committed and their display showed mental toughness and resilience. It would be extremely difficult to name one player as the Man of the Match.
But if one were to be named the Player of the Match, it would be Cesc Fabregas for his tenacious efforts, superb vision and creativity, sublime passing and most importantly, excellent leadership on the pitch.