Saturday, May 28, 2022

Ranking Arsenal’s 5 best players against Chelsea

Premier League top-four aspirants Arsenal broke their three-game losing streak with a stupendous 4-2 away victory at Chelsea on Wednesday night (20 April).

In an action-packed London derby, Mikel Arteta’s team scored two goals each on either side of half-time to secure a crucial win at Stamford Bridge. While Eddie Nketiah bagged a well-taken brace, Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka scored one goal apiece to get the Gunners’ campaign back on track.

Considering Arsenal lost their last three Premier League outings to Crystal Palace, Southampton, and Brighton & Hove Albion, hosts Chelsea started as overwhelming favorites. The Blues’ confidence, however, was punctured after only 13 minutes when Nketiah coolly found the back of Edouard Mendy’s net following a careless backpass from Andreas Christensen.

Funnily enough, the Gunners hero lost possession to Ruben Loftus-Cheek just four minutes later, presenting Thomas Tuchel’s team with the perfect opportunity to level the scoreline. Timo Werner dispatched a strike toward Aaron Ramsdale’s goal, which took a deflection off Ben White and went in, almost in slow motion.

Arsenal’s PL record against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge from 2004/05 to 2018/19:▪️ 15 games▪️ 2 wins▪️ 10 defeatsArsenal’s PL record against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge under Mikel Arteta:▪️ 3 games▪️ 2 wins▪️ 0 defeatsHe’s got the formula. 🧪 https://t.co/s69fmXOTkO

In the 27th minute, Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe combined to restore the north London side’s lead. The visitors’ valiant efforts were once again undone by the home team, with Cesar Azpilicueta popping up with the equalizer five minutes later. Arteta’s side created a couple more decent chances before the half-time whistle, but their finishing was not up to the mark.

Twelve minutes into the second half, Nketiah scored his second goal of the night, benefitting from Malang Sarr’s shoddy defending and converting from close range. After taking the lead for the third time in the match, Arsenal focused on keeping things tight at the back, making it difficult for Chelsea to get their shots away.

Ultimately, frustration got the better of the hosts as veteran defender Cesar Azpilicueta unnecessarily gifted a penalty to Saka. The Englishman easily put it away in the second minute of injury time to round off the scoring for the night.

The 4-2 win at Stamford Bridge leaves Arsenal in fifth-place, level on points with fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, who boast a better goal difference.

Here are five Arsenal players who ensured a timely return to form for the top-four contenders:


#5 Martin Odegaard

Chelsea v Arsenal - Premier League
Chelsea v Arsenal – Premier League

Since his permanent transfer from Real Madrid for €35 million at the start of the season, Odegaard has become an indispensable part of Arteta’s side.

He has a knack for creating extraordinary moments out of thin air, which makes him a truly special player.

Martin Odegaard has been directly involved in 10 Premier League goals this season:👕 30 games⚽️ 6 goals🅰️ 4 assistsExcellent signing. 🇳🇴🇳🇴 https://t.co/ntnnUEHlnP

Last night, the Norway international did not see much of the ball, but whenever he did, he looked urgent and decisive. He effortlessly linked up with Saka to assist Smith Rowe’s first-half goal, cleverly knocked the ball around and even put in a few much-needed tackles.

The 23-year-old also played three key passes, won four duels, and attempted three tackles, winning over the away fans in the process.


#4 Gabriel Magalhaes

Chelsea v Arsenal - Premier League
Chelsea v Arsenal – Premier League

Sitting at the heart of the defense, Gabriel made sure the Blues didn’t get a free meal on Wednesday night, at least not at his expense.

He was commanding in duels, read the danger well and produced a superb block to thwart Marcos Alonso’s goal-bound attempt in the 65th minute.

To those arsenal fans who keep deceiving themselves that gabriel isn’t good, keep lying and pretending. 🥂

Against the west Londoners, Gabriel made six clearances, attempted four tackles, and won five of his seven duels.

It was certainly a performance to remember from the 24-year-old Brazilian.


#3 Emile Smith Rowe

Chelsea v Arsenal - Premier League
Chelsea v Arsenal – Premier League

Emile Smith Rowe produced a sure-footed performance against the reigning European champions on Wednesday night.

He was clever in possession, carried the ball well and scored a superb goal in the first half to pull his team ahead.

2 – Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka have both scored 10+ goals in the Premier League this season; just the third time two players aged 21 or under have done so for the same team in a campaign (Bridges & Kewell for Leeds in 99-00, Rooney & Ronaldo for Man Utd in 06-07). Jewels. https://t.co/CeVp9fzTmX

In the 27th minute, Martin Odegaard found the 21-year-old inside the ‘D’. Instead of putting his foot through, as most players do, Smith Rowe opted for placement, nestling it into the bottom-right corner. The goal helped his team take a 2-1 lead.

Just before half-time, the Englishman’s nimble footwork landed him in front of Chelsea’s goal. His shot, unfortunately, was not up to the mark.

He also completed two dribbles, played a key pass, won four duels, and attempted a tackle.


#2 Bukayo Saka

Chelsea v Arsenal - Premier League
Chelsea v Arsenal – Premier League

Since the start of the 2021-22 campaign, Bukayo Saka has proven himself to be an invaluable member of Arteta’s team. The young Englishman is quick, intelligent, and, most importantly, tenacious. He took a while to get into his stride, but once he did, Marcos Alonso and Malang Sarr had nowhere to hide.

He turned Alonso inside out in the 23rd minute to find Nketiah inside the box. Unfortunately, the 22-year-old couldn’t keep his first-time effort on target. Four minutes later, he found Martin Odegaard in a dangerous area, allowing the Norwegian to look up and assist Smith Rowe’s first-half goal.

Saka, of course, also dispatched a confident penalty for his closing act of the match, sending Mendy the wrong way with a clever misdirection.

In addition to his goal and a key pass to Nketiah, Saka had one shot on target, won eight duels and made four interceptions.


#1 Eddie Nketiah

Chelsea v Arsenal - Premier League
Chelsea v Arsenal – Premier League

Over the course of the season, Mikel Arteta has rarely used Nketiah as his further-most forward. Despite his poor form, Alexandre Lacazette kept his place, allowing the 22-year-old to start only a couple of Premier League matches.

Last night was one of the rare occasions when Nketiah got his due, and he made sure to make the most of the opportunity.

3-2 Arsenal.NKETIAH SCORES AGAIN!!!! WHAT IS THIS GAME?!? https://t.co/BkYzViSAUc

The Arsenal graduate was lively from start to finish and tormented the Chelsea backline without taking a breather. He intercepted Andreas Christensen’s loose pass to open the scoring and held up the ball brilliantly and kept his cool to complete his brace in the second half.

He also contributed to his team’s defense, attempting three tackles, completing a clearance, and winning three of four aerial duels.

Following last night’s shift, it would be surprising if he does not start against Manchester United on Saturday (23 April).


Also Read: Chelsea 2-4 Arsenal: 5 talking points as Gunners claim vital win in the London Derby | Premier League 2021-22


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