In a London derby billed as a ‘six pointer’, Arsenal claimed a crucial win in the race for Champions League football.
It was a truly committed performance by the north Londoners, who were still smarting from a derby defeat just one week ago.
A fast start
The Gunners flew out of the blocks and their aggressive pressing style proved difficult for Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea to cope with. First-half goals from French duo Alexandre Lacazette and Laurent Koscielny were enough to deliver all three points for Arsenal, who are now just three points behind Chelsea in fourth.
Granit Xhaka started in a midfield diamond for Arsenal and he believes the character shown by his side contributed massively to an important victory. “It’s unbelievable,” said Xhaka, “We had a difficult game against West Ham away and we knew that if we didn’t win today it would be difficult, but we showed amazing character and team spirit. They also didn’t score against us, so we are happy to take the three points.
"We said before the game that if you don’t fight and you don’t win the duels then it will be difficult because Chelsea have a good team. They have quality on the ball so we’re happy today.”
Unai Emery comes up trumps
A noticeable strategy during the game was the deployment of Aaron Ramsey, who followed Jorginho closely throughout the match in an effort to stop him creating from deep.
Xhaka noted that Arsenal were aware of the threat Jorginho posed, and Ramsey’s role in the win proved key. When asked about Unai Emery’s tactical setup, Xhaka claimed:
“Jorginho is a very good player and we knew that before, that’s why we have information and we have to run a lot in the middle. We worked well together and Aaron was amazing.”
The only blight in Arsenal’s win would be a potentially serious injury to full back Hector Bellerin. The Spaniard went down having not been challenged and immediately signalled for the physios.
“I don’t know what happened,” remarked Xhaka. “They said something is wrong with his knee but I hope it’s not a long injury. We need him and you could see that today. I wish him all the best and I hope it’s not a big injury.”
Arsenal bounced back well after a disappointing away defeat against West Ham, and are now once again within touching distance of the top four.
With Manchester United’s recent resurgence, it’s vital that The Gunners continue to win games and show the consistency required to achieve Champions League football.