By Shikharr Chandra
Ten minutes is all that it took Chelsea to destroy Arsenal and Arsene Wenger's 1000th game in charge of the club. "We come to kill, and in 10 minutes we destroy,” said a jubilant Jose Mourinho in his post match press conference as he saw his ruthless Chelsea side end Arsenal's quest to land their first Premier League title in a decade.
In his first 500 games or so, Wenger landed seven trophies at the club. In the next 500 games, he has yet to win silverware. This season it looked like the trophy drought would certainly come to an end.
Ahead of the tie at Stamford Bridge, Wenger had claimed it as “the most important game” for his side but even he would not have foreseen what was coming his way.
Mourinho has been a nemesis for Wenger as he has never lost a game against the Frenchman. The Portuguese manager once again took a dig at his rival ahead of the game by praising Arsenal for standing by Wenger “in bad moments ... of which there were quite a lot.”
The stage was set for Wenger and his troops to deliver a killer blow on Chelsea and thereby end Mourinho’s unbeaten record at the Bridge.
However Arsenal once again faltered and how.
"This defeat is my fault, I take full responsibility for it,” said Arsene Wenger after the game, and he was not much wrong in making that statement.
He opted for a midfield of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mikel Arteta, and although the former has settled quite well in his new role, the idea of not playing a defensive midfielder in Mathieu Flamini away from home was a poor idea.
Almost every goal for Chelsea was gift wrapped. Oxlade-Chamberlain gave the ball away for the first goal which allowed Samuel Eto'o to capitalise, whereas Santi Cazorla followed next to allow Nemanja Matic deliver a perfect pass to Andre Schurrle. In ten minutes the game was over.
There was a moment of controversy when Andre Marriner sent off Keiran Gibbs instead of Oxlade-Chamberlain but not even the most ardent Arsenal supporters would assert that to be the reason for their defeat.
Chelsea were in cruise control, and never looked like being trouble. Olivier Giroud had an opportunity early in the game but his effort was way too easy for Petr Cech.
Arsenal's woes were not just confined to their midfield but it was their defense as well. The center back pairing of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny has been one of the positives for Arsenal this season. However the duo lacked cohesion and Wenger's decision to play a high line despite the team being a man down was baffling.
Arsenal's high line allowed both Andre Schurrle and Oscar to get into more advanced positions easily and the Brazilian benefited from that twice as he finally ended his run of poor performances.
For Mourinho though, it was a perfect performance despite his side not having to sweat. Eden Hazard never got into the groove and to be fair he never really needed to. Despite missing Willian and Ramires due to suspension, Chelsea never really lacked options as both Schurrle and David Luiz fitted in perfectly.
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The midfield pairing of Luiz and Matic dominated the proceedings from the word go. The Serbian played a crucial role in two of Chelsea's six goals and his exceptional ball distribution skill was for everyone to see. Chelsea's relentless pressing and penetrative counter attacks was too much for Wenger's men to handle as they looked short on ideas. Not the ideal present you would give your manager on his memorable day.
But all was not Wenger's fault. The truth is that Arsenal's players never really turned up for the game. When Tomas Rosicky gave the ball away for Chelsea's fifth, the team looked disinterested. They should have limited the damage to a minimum but it was Chelsea who slowed the pace of the game instead of being forced to do so.
The icing on the cake was provided by Mohamed Salah who as he blazed past the defense after a brilliant long ball from Matic. The Egyptian tucked the ball past an advancing Wojciech Szceszny to score his first for the new club.
Arsenal has suffered defeats in away fixtures against the big sides. 6-3 defeat to Manchester City, 5-1 against Liverpool, takes Wenger's score to 17-4 in his side's away games against teams in the top four. Not the sort of performances you could expect from a team challenging for the title.
Finally Mourinho admitted that his team has “little chance” to win the title but it seems that Wenger’s hopes to win has been dashed yet again.
It was a statement of intent by the Blues to the other rivals that this title race is going down to the wire and they are not losing their top spot easily.
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