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Premiership - Arsenal Away 10th May 2009 4-1


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Apologies for the lack of Barca reports, I've been on work experience these past two weeks and just haven't had time or the energy. Anyways, here's my take on this afternoon's excellent win.

Clinical Chelsea Seal Third Spot

Arsenal 1-4 Chelsea

By Alan McGuinness

Against Barcelona you could accuse Chelsea of wasting their chances. Not today. Whereas on Wednesday night the Blues ultimately paid the price for their profligacy, at the Emirates Stadium this afternoon they took their chances when they got them and put four past a spirited, but ultimately wasteful Arsenal side who have now lost hope of automatic qualification for the Champions League for next season.

Chelsea's group stage berth is secured, and whoever is in charge next season will begin again the work of landing the club's first European Cup.

The opening half an hour of this game gave no indication of what was to follow. Arsenal were the better side and had a number of chances to take the lead. Theo Walcott was tormentor-in-chief of the Blues' defence, relishing his battle with ex-Arsenal left back Ashley Cole.

The Englishman played a one two with Robin Van Persie but could only manage to shoot high over the bar. He then forced Petr Cech into a save with a shot from a tight angle.

Abou Diaby and Alex Song also had efforts on goal as Chelsea began to feel the pressure. Arsenal seemed a completely different side to the one beaten so comprehensively by Manchester United in midweek.

But Chelsea drew first blood with a goal that was totally against the run of play.

Cesc Fabregas brought down Didier Drogba and the Ivorian swung in the resulting free kick. It was met by Alex, whose header hit the underside of the bar and bounced in.

The Gunners' afternoon could have got much worse minutes later when Fabregas - already booked for his foul on Drogba - slid in on Florent Malouda. Referee Phil Dowd gave the Spaniard a lecture instead of his marching orders.

It was a former Gunner who then gave the Blues a two-goal cushion heading into half time. Nicolas Anelka received the ball in his own half and was allowed to run towards Arsenal's goal unopposed. When he reached around 25 yards out he let rip with a powerful drive that curled away from the despairing dive of Lukasz Fabianski and into the corner of net.

Anelka could have all but wrapped up the three points in first half stoppage time but the Frenchman shot at Fabianski's legs after good link up play between Malouda and Michael Essien.

Three minutes into the second half it was game over. Cole sprinted down the left wing and hit a cross into the box that Kolo Toure diverted into his own net.

Arsenal went in search of the consolation they deserved - and hoped - would be the start of something resembling a comeback.

Van Persie drew a save from Cech and Walcott missed another excellent chance, shooting wide with the outside of his boot.

Wenger's side finally got the goal they had been threatening to score all afternoon and it was substitute Nicklas Bendtner who provided it. The Dane got up high enough to nod in Bacary Sagna's cross.

This gave the Emirates crowd a lift and Bendtner almost repeated his goal scoring feat five minutes later. This time however Cech was equal to the task and saved.

A bout of penalty box pinball had Chelsea hearts in mouths as the game moved towards stoppage time. Mikael Silvestre managed to get a clean connection on the ball but was thwarted by the quick reactions of Cech.

Substitute Emmanuel Adebayor took a theatric tumble in the box but Phil Dowd correctly waved for play to continue, but should have booked the Togolese striker for a quite blatant dive.

To rub salt in the wounds Guus Hiddink's side added a fourth before the final whistle. Frank Lampard sent Malouda clear, but the winger shot straight at the onrushing Fabianski. The ball came out to Anelka, whose follow up hit the post. Malouda was on hand to knock the ball in.

The disappointment of Barcelona has been eased somewhat by this emphatic win - Chelsea's first at the Emirates - while Arsene Wenger has been served with another reminder of the gulf that exists between his side and the rest of the 'Big Four'.

Edited by Alan
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