Arsenal Stun Chelsea 5-3 at Stamford Bridge in a Premier League Classic


London is Red.

In what was one of the most incredible games of football I have ever seen (I have said that way too many times this year, at least this time Arsenal are on the right end).

Arsenal embarked on the formidable task of heading to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea, in the midst of a rocky start to their Premier League campaign to say the very least.

Chelsea blew Arsenal off the park early, finding it all too easy to beat Arsenal’s fullbacks Djourou and Santos, and could have been 2 or 3 goals up inside 10 minutes. Arsenal then pushed back and could have scored 2 goals themselves but Theo Walcott’s inch perfect crosses were wasted by both Gervinho and van Persie.

It didn’t take long for Chelsea to respond, breaking down Arsenal’s typical woeful defending as Juan Mata delivered a cross for Frank Lampard to head home before the 20th minute. Arsenal responded some 15 minutes later as Ramsey played a gorgeous ball through the heart of Chelsea’s defense to Gervinho who unselfishly played in his captain for Arsenal’s equaliser. Arsenal looked to take the game level into half time, but again embarrassed themselves with a lacklustre piece of defending off a set piece, allowing John Terry to attempt to bury a difficult week with a goal.

Arsenal trudged off the park at half time clearly frustrated, but the best was yet to come.

Arsenal clearly came out the better side in the second half and got forward early through Walcott, Gervinho and Santos. The latter made a fabulous overlapping run and beat Cech to level the scores at 2-2, restoring hope for Arsenal to earn a point. Not long after Theo Walcott continued his recent dominance over Ca$hely Cole as he incredibly dribbled through the defense and fired a dipping bullet past Cech to send the Arsenal fans and players into hysterics as they claimed a rare lead at Stamford Bridge.

Arsenal had half an hour to survive the Chelsea onslaught as Jenkinson and Vermaelen came on to sure up the defense. Juan Mata ensured Chelsea would still be in it with a stunning floating goal with around 10 minutes to go, despite Santos clearly being fouled by Lukaku as Mata took possession. It promised a dramatic final 10 minutes, but no one expected what happened next.

Malouda, a second half substitution laid a simple back pass to John Terry, which was not on target and Terry reacted angrily, costing himself position and eventually his footing. Terry slipped over and that left Robin van Persie one on one with Cech, who he simply rounded and played in his second of the day and restored Arsenal’s lead.

Chelsea pushed on for a winner and Arsenal fought with all their might to deny the West Londoners. Chelsea committed nearly everyone forward, and Arsenal managed to escape an attack and set out on a 4-2 overlap. In typical Arsenal fashion they moved the ball amongst the four counter attackers at speed, eventually finding van Persie who smashed a swerving effort past Cech for his second career hat trick and ensured all 3 points went back to the Emirates.

The game was one of incredible ebbs and flows, one of consistent lead and possession changes, one of contrasting periods of dominance. It was the most lively high profile showdown for some time. Both teams abandoned a conservative approach in an effort to go out and score goals. When a team did sit back they were broken apart, as the 8 goal game suggested.

It underlined something I wrote about earlier in the week, that Arsenal have really developed a new persona about them, a fighting persona. The Arsenal teams of the past would have been overwhelmed and intimidated out of such a game, especially after being down early and heartbreakingly at half time. Yet this new look Arsenal team, no doubt lower on quality but higher on character, continue to fight till the final whistle and that is the reason they are in the midst of a five game win streak. They are unbeaten since their loss away to Tottenham and are within 3 points of Chelsea after being in relegation positions only a month or so ago.

An incredible turn around from Arsenal who have ensured London remains red for the time being.

Meanwhile Chelsea appear to be the shadow of the team they once were, especially defensively, as they are still yet to record a Premier League clean sheet, something that was a given for the Chelsea team’s of the past half decade nearly every week. The fortress that was Stamford Bridge appears to be crumbling down, and the unrest between players, board members, the owner and the fans is starting to be seen clearly on the pitch.

Abramovich will likely throw money at the situation in an effort to resolve it, but this may be beyond anything cash can repair. As Arsenal march back into contention, Chelsea seem to be heading in the other way.