Arse­nal end Chelsea run

Wenger happy to shed his Blues hoodoo

The Star (Kenya) - - Sports -

BY WIL­LIAM SCHOMBERG/ For five years, Chelsea were the neme­sis of Arse­nal and their coach Arsene Wenger but Satur­day’s re­sound­ing 3-0 vic­tory in the Lon­don derby rep­re­sented a psy­cho­log­i­cal boost for the French­man.

The last time Arse­nal beat Chelsea in the league was in Oc­to­ber 2011 and for three years they had not even scored a goal against their cross-town ri­vals, not count­ing a 1-0 win in the pre-sea­son Com­mu­nity Shield match in 2015.

“I said be­fore the game that we have some in­con­ve­nient facts. They were that we couldn’t beat Chelsea for years,” said a beam­ing Wenger, who marked 20 years in charge of Arse­nal this week.

“I think what was very im­por­tant for me is that a psy­cho­log­i­cal hur­dle does not stand in your way,” he said. “We don’t have not to make too much of it, but as well not ig­nore it.”

When a reporter’s tele­phone be­gan to ring, he joked: “It’s Jose,” laugh­ing off his bit­ter ri­valry with Chelsea’s for­mer man­ager Jose Mour­inho.

Wenger’s side have looked in­tim­i­dated by Chelsea in the past but they were in the driv­ing seat from the start of Satur­day’s en­counter, cap­i­tal­is­ing on dread­ful de­fend­ing by the vis­i­tors to storm into a 2-0 lead within 15 min­utes.

Last sea­son, Chelsea striker Diego Costa was in­volved in the send­ing off of Arse­nal de­fend­ers in both league meet­ings be­tween the two sides.

This time, by con­trast, it was Costa who was frus­trated as his mark­ers Lau­rent Ko­scielny and Shko­r­dran Mustafi snuffed out ev­ery chance that came his way, build­ing a plat­form for Arse­nal to pun­ish Chelsea for their de­fen­sive short­com­ings.

By half­time, the game was over as a con­test af­ter Me­sut Ozil raced into Chelsea’s half and bam­boo­zled Cahill and fel­low cen­tre half David Luiz with a one-two with Sanchez be­fore scor­ing the third.

Wenger hailed his team’s firsthalf per­for­mance as “nearly per­fect” and al­lowed him­self to en­ter­tain the pos­si­bil­ity of win­ning the ti­tle, de­spite Manch­ester City win­ning all six of their games so far to sit five points ahead of Arse­nal.

“At the mo­ment Manch­ester City look to be way in front but if we can main­tain our per­for­mances... and be con­sis­tent we might have a chance,” he said.

By con­trast, Chelsea coach Antonio Conte was left in no doubt about the size of the chal­lenge he faces to re­build his team which last year fin­ished a lowly 10th in the af­ter firing Mour­inho in mid-sea­son.


Arse­nal’s Theo Wal­cott in ac­tion against Chelsea’s Mar­cos Alonso.

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