Arsenal led by 9/10 Koscielny in defence and attack; Lacazette also shines
Arsenal put in a fantastic first-half performance to reignite the race for the top four as they beat Chelsea 2-0 to close the gap on the Blues to three points. With Manchester United also in form and breathing down their necks, this was a massive result as Unai Emery's side answered their critics with arguably their best performance of the season.
The pressure and intensity inside the first 10 minutes was excellent, as it often is, but this time the Gunners were able to capitalise with a stunning opener from Alexandre Lacazette. They kept Chelsea pinned back and had plenty of opportunities to score before eventually making things more comfortable with a fortunate second from Laurent Koscielny. The Frenchman looks back to his old self after a long-term injury to bring some much-needed stability to the defence.
Should have been two or three ahead early on as they missed some good chances, and then had a wobble just before half-time when Marcos Alonso hit the post with a header. They sat back to invite pressure in the second half, but we're splitting hairs a bit.
Hector Bellerin's injury will be a blow.
Manager Rating out of 10
8 -- Unai Emery finally ditched the back three in favour of the flat back four and wide forward system that worked so well against Tottenham, with Aaron Ramsey behind Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. And the 4-3-1-2 system just seems to suit them.
Aggressive pressing is becoming Emery's trademark but this system also allowed him to get men behind the ball and ensure Arsenal defended as a team. In fact, at times watching Chelsea was like watching the Arsenal of old as the Blues got into a good position and then had to pass the ball backwards.
Leaving Mesut Ozil on the bench, Emery didn't bow to pressure to start the German and will be delighted that his team were both a threat in attack and solid in defence. He even took the popular Lacazette off again to shut up shop with 20 minutes to go.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Bernd Leno, 6 -- Had almost nothing to do until the final 10 minutes. But claimed only a second clean sheet at the club.
DF Hector Bellerin, 7 -- Back in the side after injury, his cool head at the back was as welcome as his runs down the right flank. His knee injury looked bad with nobody else around him when he went down, and he will be missed.
DF Sokratis Papastathopoulos, 8 -- Missed a free header inside eight minutes but made up for it with a fine assist for his partner Koscielny. And helped to keep Eden Hazard quiet, which is always tough.
DF Laurent Koscielny, 9 -- Another to have a great chance to score in the opening exchanges but shouldered the ball home fo Arsenal's second. He also did his main job of defending brilliantly and his positioning was exceptional to clear danger time and again.
DF Sead Kolasinac, 6 -- Caught out trying to play offside and was lucky not to be punished. Chelsea found a lot of success down his side, but he also provided a good outlet with some lung-busting runs.
MF Lucas Torreira, 7 -- Not his usual destructive self but kept running and broke up the play well. Is also impressing with his delivery from free kicks.
MF Granit Xhaka, 6 -- Should have been booked inside three minutes for a pull on N'Golo Kante and continues to frustrate with his mix of excellent and terrible passing.
MF Matteo Guendouzi, 7 -- Excellent technique and stamina for one so young. As the left-sided central midfielder he left Kolasinac a little too exposed, but he nullified Kante's impact.
MF Aaron Ramsey, 7 -- A few neat touches and aggressive pressing from the front, but didn't get as involved in the game as he would have wanted. Lost Marcos Alonso from a corner and was lucky the Spaniard hit the post.
FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 8 -- Should have scored twice early on, and then almost did with a stunning overhead kick, but his defensive tracking back and sliding tackles (especially the one on Hazard in the box) were a sight to behold.
FW Alexandre Lacazette, 9 -- The touch and finish for his goal was everything Arsenal want to see from him. A constant threat and unlucky to be taken off early again.
DF Ainsley Maitland-Niles (67), 6 -- Brought on to shore things up defensively on the flank but ended up at right-back when Bellerin went off soon after.
MF Alex Iwobi (67), 6 -- Defended from the front and put in plenty of running as the game ticked away.
MF Mohamed Elneny (70), 6 -- Another to run himself into the ground in his limited time on the pitch.