LONDON (AP) — Arsenal finally lifted the gloom surrounding the club and beat Chelsea 3-1 on Saturday, with the Gunners winning their first Premier League match in nearly two months.
A calmly taken penalty from Alexandre Lacazette, a sensational free kick from Granit Xhaka and a bizarre goal from Bukayo Saka gave Arsenal all three points at Emirates Stadium.
But it was a nervy finish for the hosts as Chelsea got a consolation goal from Tammy Abraham in the 85th minute after initially being flagged for offside. The visitors were then awarded a penalty a few minutes later, but Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno saved Jorginho’s shot in injury time.
Arsenal climbed up to 14th place with 17 points after the team’s worst start to a season in decades. The victory at Emirates Stadium, which was empty because of coronavirus restrictions, relieved pressure on manager Mikel Arteta.
It was Arsenal’s first league win since Nov. 1 against Manchester United. Prior to the victory against Chelsea, Arsenal was winless in its last seven league matches with five defeats and two draws.
Chelsea, on the other hand, didn’t seem to turn up for the majority of the match, even though the club could have moved up to second in the league with a win. As it stands, the Blues moved down to sixth with 25 points.
Arsenal started brightly and within 40 seconds, Gabriel Martinelli was unmarked in the penalty area but scuffed his shot. It was a sign of things to come.
As halftime approached, Arsenal left back Kieran Tierney ran past Reece James in the penalty area and went over. Television replays showed that James clipped the back of Tierney’s left foot, with the Arsenal defender appearing to go to ground easily.
But VAR confirmed that it was a foul, and Lacazette stepped up, ran up to the ball, stopped for a moment and then sent goalkeeper Edouard Mendy the wrong way in the 34th.
Lacazette, who is Arsenal’s top scorer in all competitions this season with six, celebrated by wiping his brow in relief and grinning from ear to ear.
Just before halftime, Saka was chopped down by N’Golo Kante for a free kick. Xhaka, just back from a three-match ban for violent conduct, hovered over the ball before sending a stunning, curling free kick over the Chelsea wall with his left foot and into the top corner in the 44th.
Chelsea tried to gain a foothold at the start of the second half after making a double substitution, but it was short-lived.
Saka found his way down the right and only he will know whether he meant it as a shot or a cross. But the ball confused Mendy and sailed over his head to bang in off the inside of the post in the 56th.
Chelsea showed spirit at the end, but it was too little, too late.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
#Arsenal #lifts #gloom #win #Chelsea #EPL