This was the day the history books were mercilessly torn to shreds. Not only did Chelsea rain on Arsene Wenger’s parade, his thousandth game in charge of Arsenal, the Blues whipped up a typhoon to emphatically record their biggest victory under Jose Mourinho’s stewardship.
We were excellent throughout. Our back four were solid as usual, with Michael Owen, on his live TV duties, highlighting Cesar Azpilicueta for distinguished praise as the Spaniard was deservedly nominated Man of the Match, an accolade in which many a player in blue would have advanced cases for.
Oscar was assertive and bright in midfield, the Brazilian rewarded for his mercurial excellence with a brace. Nemanja Matic and David Luiz were dominant, as were Chelsea from the start. Samuel Eto’o continued his goal-scoring streak of late with a wonderful fourth minute effort which preceded strikes from Andre Schurrle, two from Oscar and one of great significance from Mohamed Salah.
There was a case of mistaken identity as we extended our lead at the Premier League summit to seven points (before Liverpool and Manchester City played). The misconception that Arsenal were genuine title contenders was horribly exposed by our brutally efficient attacking play.
Arsenal were insipid and unorganized as Laurent Koscienly and Per Mertesacker made a mockery of their supposed status as the best centre-half pairing in the top-flight as they struggled to contend with the intelligent movement of our offensive three behind the striker. Our first venture into the opposition half brought the opening goal.
Moments after Cech had crucially saved Olivier Giroud’s tamely struck effort, we sprung forward in numbers. Oscar slid the ball into Schurrle, who timed his pass to Eto’o to perfection, his finish matching its superb build-up, curling beyond Wojciech Szczesny and into the bottom left-hand corner.
He had scored after four minutes here on Tuesday evening and repeated the feat before having to be replaced with a hamstring problem. Fernando Torres assumed the Cameroonian’s duties.
Matic was alert, dispossessing the disinclined Santi Cazorla and playing in the on-rushing Schurrle. As Koscienly continued to perilously back-track, the German aimed for the bottom left-hand corner, finding it with a drilled effort. We were two goals up after six minutes and threatening to run riot – which we duly did.
The majestic Oscar robbed Cazorla, the Spaniard once again falling victim to our wonderful enthusiasm, before Eden Hazard exchanged passes with Torres on the edge of the box and shot towards the top corner, only for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to intervene in an ill-advised manner. Kieran Gibbs comically departed and Hazard, as expected, ambled up to the spot to dispatch the subsequent penalty.
Either side of Oscar’s lofted close-range finish before the interval, we failed to sustain the scintillating offensive play we had showcased in the first 41 minutes of this surprising one-sided London derby; I had anticipated Arsenal to mount a much more sterner challenge than they eventually did.
Oscar, without any labour, added to the humiliating score-line, intercepting Tomas Rosicky’s horribly wayward pass and directing his strike beyond Szczesny’s unimpressive dive. Arsenal were significantly contributing to their own downfall, with their costly, and frequent, lapses of concentration.
But Wenger’s men were the better side for the first 15 minutes of the second-half, performing gallantly following the introductions of Carl Jenkinson and Mathieu Flamini for Koscienly, who had produced an uncommonly poor display, and Chamberlain respectively.
Mourinho prowled on the touch-line, urging his team to go for the jugular and boost our goal-difference, a stat which could prove pivotal in May. The Portuguese’s demands were duly met as he celebrated Salah’s first Chelsea goal.
Matic, in his own half, picked out Salah’s beautifully-timed run with an excellent long-range delivery. The Egyptian, who replaced Oscar after 67 minutes, finished clinically, his accomplished strike eluding Szczesny.
It could have been more. Torres, after a mazy run, saw his effort blocked before Szczesny excellently thwarted David Luiz. Arsenal have their Polish keeper to thank – we would have run up a cricket score were it not for him. It could have been 1,000.
Oscar’s emergence from performance lull
Oscar emerged, as Stamford Bridge basked in the spring sunshine, from his recent winter slump. He had shown signs of doing so on Tuesday evening against Galatasaray, but here he announced his return to superb form.
The Brazilian was everywhere, spearheading our attacking moves by coming deep to collect the ball. He kept moves and possession ticking over, resulting in our dominance.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Matic, Schurrle, Oscar, Hazard, Eto’o.
Subs: Schwarzer, Kalas, Mikel, Lampard, Salah, Ba, Torres.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscienly, Gibbs, Arteta, Rosicky, Chamberlain, Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud.
Subs: Fabianski, Vermaelen, Jenkinson, Flamini, Kallstrom, Sanago, Gnabry.
Photo courtesy of Flickr/matthewthecoolguy