Chelsea dominate Arsenal to go 12 points clear at top of the table

Chelsea 3 Arsenal 1

Eden Hazard struck a stunning solo goal as Chelsea boosted their Premier League title hopes and left Arsenal's in tatters.

Arsenal may have complaints about Marcos Alonso's opener, which came when he clattered Hector Bellerin. But the visitors could do nothing about the second in Chelsea's 3-1 win at Stamford Bridge.

Hazard picked the ball up in the centre circle, evaded Laurent Koscielny and brushed off Francis Coquelin before fooling Koscielny, again, and drilling in by Petr Cech.

Cech gifted the ball to Cesc Fabregas, who casually lobbed the goalkeeper, for a third, as Chelsea ruthlessly punished Arsenal, who gained scant consolation with a late Olivier Giroud header.

Home boss Antonio Conte celebrated as Chelsea won for the 11th straight home game to move 12 points clear of the Gunners with 14 games to play.

With Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger banished to the East Stand, serving the third match of his four-game touchline ban, Conte was unopposed in his technical area.

At times it seemed as if his team were similarly privileged on the pitch, too, as Chelsea supporters pleaded for Wenger to stay.

As N'Golo Kante, Pedro and Hazard excelled in an imposing team performance from Chelsea, Arsenal's Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott again disappointed on the big stage.

The shock of September's 3-0 loss at Arsenal prompted Conte to change formation and was the catalyst for a 13-game winning run. The Blues have now won 16 of 18 Premier League games since.

Arsenal, more through lack of options than choice, switched to 4-3-3 at Stamford Bridge and initially the pressing of Alexis Sanchez, in particular, prompted errors.

Thibaut Courtois and David Luiz exchanged casual passes and the goalkeeper missed his intended target, allowing Alex Iwobi to nip in ahead of the defender. His shot deflected narrowly wide.

Gary Cahill headed a Pedro free-kick into the floor and over before Chelsea went in front.

Another Pedro cross was met by Diego Costa, whose header struck Cech's bar and looped up.

Bellerin had a standing jump, but Alonso beat him to the ball with a run and leap to score.

Those of a Chelsea persuasion argued it was a fair challenge as Bellerin toppled to the ground, banging his head. The Gunners argued it was a foul, with Alonso leading with his arms.

Gabriel replaced Bellerin, depriving Arsenal of a key defensive and attacking figure.

Costa shot into the side-netting and Chelsea's desire to build on their advantage was demonstrated when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was swamped by three opposition players in midfield.

Costa then fluffed a chance. The striker was caught by the recovering Coquelin, with Pedro free and screaming to his right.

Next Cech could only parry a Pedro shot from Alonso's cut-back.

Chelsea might have been two or three up, but Courtois was required to ensure the hosts were still ahead at the interval.

He tipped over a Gabriel header from Oxlade-Chamberlain's cross before Ozil's weak shot was held.

Hazard fired over before his mesmerising run finished with his 10th goal of the season.

Conte celebrated wildly, hugging supporters near the touchline as the bragging stepped up a notch with Arsenal facing a fifth successive Premier League loss at Stamford Bridge.

Their most recent win came in October 2011 and since then Arsenal have now scored twice in five games, conceding 15 times.

The lowest point was a 6-0 defeat in Wenger's 1,000th game in charge, but it felt like Groundhog Day.

Arsenal's defence finally caught up with Hazard 20 minutes after his goal when Gabriel caught him with a flailing arm, conceding a free-kick.

Courtois saved from substitute Danny Welbeck and Mustafi headed wide, unmarked at the near post.

Arsenal's chance had gone and former Chelsea goalkeeper Cech's poor clearance saw the Blues net their third.

Fabregas, on moments earlier, lobbed the ball in and declined to celebrate against the club he once captained.

Giroud nodded in a cross from Nacho Monreal in stoppage time, but it was already Chelsea's day.

Player Ratings

CHELSEA

THIBAUT COURTOIS: The Belgian was forced into a smart save from Gabriel and had a nervy moment with a misplaced clearance early on but was largely untested in the Chelsea goal, though he will be unhappy at conceding late on. 6 (out of 10)

CESAR AZPILICUETA: Largely untroubled afternoon for the Spaniard. 7.

DAVID LUIZ: Continues to impress following his shock summer return and played his part in another clean sheet for Antonio Conte's side. 7.

GARY CAHILL: The England man was cool, calm and collected in dealing with the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott. 7.

VICTOR MOSES: Solid if unspectacular display from the wing-back. 7.

NEMANJA MATIC: Such a commanding presence against Arsenal's almost makeshift midfield duo. 7.

N'GOLO KANTE: Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is a long-term fan and it is easy to see why. Dominates almost every game he plays and showed a range of passing to match his tenacity in the tackle. 8

MARCOS ALONSO: Fourth league goal of the season put Blues ahead. 7.

PEDRO: Chased and harried the Arsenal defence at every opportunity having been recalled to the starting line-up. 8

EDEN HAZARD: Magnificent solo effort to double Chelsea's lead and continues to show last season was a mere blip as he looks as good as ever - if not better. 9.

DIEGO COSTA: Bullied the defence in the way he has always done and will be ultimately frustrated on a personal level that he did not hit a goal for himself. 7.

SUBSTITUTES -

CESC FABREGAS (for Hazard, 84): The former Arsenal midfielder was presented with a great chance to tuck away the third goal and did just that. 6.

WILLIAN (for Pedro, 84): Little chance to stake a claim for a return to the starting line-up. 5

KURT ZOUMA (for Moses, 88): A time-wasting change from Conte. 5.

ARSENAL

PETR CECH: The former Chelsea stopper was slow to react before Alonso opened the scoring and gifted former Gunner Fabregas the third with a sloppy clearance. 5.

HECTOR BELLERIN: Forced off after early collision with Alonso, which saw Chelsea take the lead and Bellerin crumpled in a heap. 5.

SHKODRAN MUSTAFI: Despite signing for big money and plenty of expectation, the German still struggles in some games and never got to grips with Chelsea's attacking talent. 5.

LAURENT KOSCIELNY: Could not captain Arsenal to a rare Stamford Bridge success and, like Mustafi, was seemingly fighting a losing battle against the Blues frontmen. 6.

NACHO MONREAL: Prevented from offering much as an attacking force, the Spaniard did toil and worked hard for the team. 6.

FRANCIS COQUELIN: Attempted to foul Hazard in the build-up to Chelsea's second but instead was left in a spin. Struggled with no natural midfield partner. 6.

ALEX OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN: Operating in a deeper, central role the England international was one of Arsenal's best performers on a forgettable afternoon. 7.

THEO WALCOTT: Lost Alonso as he came in to put Chelsea ahead and had little opportunity to make an impact at the right end of the pitch. 6.

MESUT OZIL: Often superb but sometimes invisible, this was an average display from Arsenal's record signing. Dawdled in possession at one stage in the first half when he should have got a shot away. 5.

ALEX IWOBI: Did not operate as the out-and-out winger Gunners fans have become accustomed to and did not fully get to grips with his more central responsibilities. 5.

ALEXIS SANCHEZ: Another frustrating 90 minutes for the Chilean workhorse, who chased every ball and hassled every Chelsea defender in possession but did not test Courtois all afternoon. 6.

SUBSTITUTES -

GABRIEL (for Bellerin, 17): Wasted a great chance to equalise and is not a natural full-back. 5.

OLIVIER GIROUD (for Coquelin, 65): Struck the consolation to keep his own recent good form going. 7.

DANNY WELBECK (for Walcott, 70): The game was all but over before the former Manchester United man was introduced but worked hard to get involved. 6.


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