Starting XI: Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Iwobi, Walcott, Alexis
Subs: Ospina, Gibbs, Gabriel, Maitland-Niles, The Jeff, Welbeck, Giroud
A header by Marcus Alonso, a solo effort by Eden Hazard and a late lob by Cesc Fabregas helped Chelsea to a comfortable 3-1 victory against Arsenal that all but kills off the Gunners title hopes.
Arsene Wenger’s men did reduce the deficit in stoppage time courtesy of Olivier Giroud’s header, but earlier profligacy in front of goal and sloppy play at the back proved costly.
The result leaves Arsenal 12 points behind the Blues who looked nailed on to win the title.
Alex Iwobi’s early effort, from the right edge of the area and deflected wide, capped a bright opening ten minutes by the Gunners. However, it wasn’t long before Antonio Conte’s men clicked into gear.
Cahill bounced a header over the bar and two minutes later the league leaders went ahead. The ball was worked out to the right wing where Pedro curled a dangerous cross to the near post. Costa’s header cracked off the bar leaving Petr Cech stranded and Marcus Alonso, left untracked by Walcott, jumped higher than Bellerin to head in the rebound from three yards. (1-0)
Replays showed the Chelsea man poleaxing his compatriot with his elbow – he may have had eyes for the ball, but it still looked a foul. Bellerin was left dazed and confused, required medical treatment and was immediately substituted. Gabriel came on in his place.
After that Chelsea looked dangerous every time they came forward. Their quick transitions resulted in wave after wave of attack although clear chances were at a premium. Only Pedro’s tame effort, fumbled around the post by Cech, was on target.
In the ten minutes before the break the Gunners started to play a bit more and perhaps should have been level. A fine dinked cross by Chamberlain found Gabriel six-yards out but the Brazilian could only head straight at Courtois who palmed the ball over.
In stoppage time Ozil’s low drive produced another save from the Belgium international down to his near post.
Chelsea, buoyed by repetitively poor distribution by Arsenal defenders, regained their swagger in the opening stages of the second period and on 52 minutes doubled their lead.
A poor header by Koscielny was picked up by Eden Hazard in the centre circle allowing the Belgian to drive goalwards. Faced with three men he shimmied left and right before finding a finish over Cech. It was a horror show from the Gunners. (2-0)
Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck replaced Coquelin and Walcott as Wenger, sitting high up in the stands, threw caution to the wind in search of a goal.
The England international was an energetic presence and came close to reducing the deficit as he drew a save from Courtois with a header. From the resulting corner Mustafi headed wide with the goal gaping.
To rub salt in the wounds Cesc Fabregas, on as a substitute, killed off the game with five minutes remaining. Cech made a terrible error passing the ball to the Spaniard on the edge of the box and in chasing after the error made it easy for our former captain to lobbed the ball home. (3-0)
In stoppage time Olivier Giroud headed home a Monreal cross to end a four-year goal drought at the Bridge, but it too little too late after a wretched afternoon.(3-1)