Chelsea 3-1 Arsenal: Eden Hazard wonder strike sends Blues closer to the title
By Richard Morgan
Last Updated: 07/02/17 2:22pm
Eden Hazard scored a memorable solo goal as Chelsea moved a step closer to winning the Premier League with a 3-1 victory over Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
The Blues led 1-0 at half-time thanks to Marcos Alonso's header, however, it was Hazard's 53rd-minute strike that brought the house down in west London.
The Belgian glided past three Arsenal players during a run that started inside his own half before beating Petr Cech, who then gifted Cesc Fabregas a third after a poor clearance.
The visitors managed a late consolation through Olivier Giroud's header, with Chelsea now nine points clear of their title rivals.
Antonio Conte, who had a full-strength squad to pick from, made just the one change from the Chelsea team that drew 1-1 at Liverpool in midweek, with Pedro replacing Willian in midfield.
Meanwhile, opposite number Arsene Wenger brought in Hector Bellerin, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott to the team that surprisingly lost at home to Watford on Tuesday night.
However, Bellerin only lasted 17 minutes before being substituted with a facial injury picked up trying to prevent Alonso putting Chelsea in front.
The goal came after Victor Moses released Pedro down the right, with the Spaniard swinging in an inviting cross that Diego Costa thumped against the bar, before Alonso beat Bellerin to the rebound to head home his fourth league goal of the season.
The Arsenal right back was replaced by Gabriel, although the Brazilian endured a torrid start to his game as Chelsea looked to exploit the new man. And they very nearly did just past the half-hour mark after Alonso found Pedro just inside the box, only for Cech to deny the forward.
Gradually, though, the visitors began to gain a foothold in proceedings and really should have drawn level seven minutes before half-time after working a corner short between Mesut Ozil and Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The latter's chipped ball into the box picked out the unmarked Gabriel six yards out, but his header was beaten clear by Thibaut Courtois.
That chance appeared to give the Gunners a much-needed lift after a tough first quarter of the contest, and they finished the half strongly as Ozil tested Courtois at his near post with a low shot.
However, whatever Wenger may have said to his players at the interval was soon forgotten as Hazard doubled the home side's lead with one of the goals of the season.
The diminutive playmaker picked up possession inside his own half and then embarked on a solo run that took him past Laurent Koscielny, Francis Coquelin - who was left on the floor - and then the Arsenal captain again, before driving the ball past Cech from close range.
Wenger - watching the game from the stands as a result of the four-match ban imposed on the Frenchman for pushing a fourth official against Burnley - reacted to that strike by introducing the attacking threats of Giroud and Danny Welbeck.
It was the England forward who came close to pulling a goal back with 12 minutes left, only for Courtois to stretch to claw his header behind for a corner, from which Shkodran Mustafi headed inches past the near post.
But to complete Arsenal's misery, their former captain Fabregas added a third with five minutes remaining after ex-Blues 'keeper Cech made a hash of clearing his lines following a throw in, with the Spaniard lobbing the 'keeper from 25 yards.
The visitors managed an injury-time consolation as Giroud headed home Nacho Monreal's left-wing cross, despite Courtois getting a firm hand to it, but their five-year wait for a league win at Chelsea goes on.
Chelsea: Courtois (7); Azpilicueta (7), David Luiz (7), Cahill (7); Moses (8), Kante (8), Matic (8), Alonso (8); Pedro (8), Diego Costa (7), Hazard (9)
Used subs: Zouma (6), Fabregas (7), Willian (6)
Arsenal: Cech (6), Bellerin (6), Mustafi (6), Koscielny (6), Monreal (6), Coquelin (6), Oxlade-Chamberlain (5), Iwobi (6), Walcott (5), Ozil (5), Alexis (5)
Used subs: Gabriel (6), Welbeck (7), Giroud (6)
Man of the Match: Eden Hazard