Arsenal returned to the top of the Premier League on Tuesday with a 3-1 win over a woeful Chelsea, set on its way by two goals from Martin Odegaard, but the title is still Manchester City’s to lose having played two games less than the leader.
Arsenal raced into a 3-0 halftime lead when captain Odegaard was given acres of space - twice - by Chelsea’s flimsy defence to score in the 18th and 31st minutes, and Gabriel Jesus converted from close-range 11 minutes before the break.
Arsenal’s first win in five games took them to 78 points, two more than second-placed City - the reigning champion - who has the chance to reclaim the top spot when it hosts West Ham United on Wednesday.
After losing to City 4-1 last week, Mikel Arteta made three changes, including giving striker Leandro Trossard a start in the place of Gabriel Martinelli and handing Jakub Kiwior his first league start in midfield.
His side dominated its slumping London rival straight from the kick-off as it sought to shake off last week’s potentially title-deciding setback.
Granit Xhaka, who provided assists for both Odegaard’s strikes, almost opened the scoring himself in the opening minutes but he was thwarted by Kepa Arrizabalaga who went on to make saves in the second half that prevented an Arsenal rout.
“Everyone was so hurt after the game (against City),” Odegaard said after taking his league goal tally for the season to 14.
“We used the anger and the disappointment to get back into this game. You can lose games but the way we lost, we didn’t play our game and weren’t ourselves, that was the most painful thing, and we wanted to show a different side and we definitely did,” the Norwegian told Sky Sports.
Chelsea lost for the sixth time in six games in all competitions since interim coach Frank Lampard replaced Graham Potter last month, a dismal run for a club that was crowned European champion as recently as two years ago.
But Chelsea at least managed to score only its second goal in eight games when Noni Madueke squeezed the ball past Aaron Ramsdale in the 65th minute for his first strike since signing from PSV Eindhoven in January.
Chelsea’s US owners, who have lavished over 500 million pounds ($623 million) on players since buying the club almost a year ago, are expected to name former Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino as their new permanent coach for next season.
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