Arsene Wenger endured a woeful 1,000th match in charge of Arsenal as Barclays Premier League leaders Chelsea romped to a 6-0 win at Stamford Bridge.
The Frenchman has never tasted victory over Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho and that record continued on Saturday as Arsenal were taken apart easily. Samuel Eto'o and Andre Schurrle capitalised on poor defending to put the hosts two goals ahead inside seven minutes.
Things soon got worse for Arsenal as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain handled on the line after 15 minutes to concede a penalty that Eden Hazard converted. Before the kick was taken Kieran Gibbs was sent off. Oscar added further goals either side of half-time and substitute Mohamed Salah also got in on the act to round off Arsenal’s poor day.
Arsenal sit seven points behind Chelsea having played a match fewer, and their performance continued a worrying trend this season in away matches against title rivals. Wenger's side had suffered 6-3 and 5-1 defeats at the hands of Manchester City and Liverpool respectively and appear likely to complete a ninth successive season without silverware.
Schurrle and Eto'o were each recalled, together with David Luiz, to a Chelsea side missing Ramires and Willian through suspension. An unchanged Arsenal threatened after four minutes when Olivier Giroud forced Petr Cech into a sharp low save following a neat through-ball from Tomas Rosicky.
Yet Chelsea then moved ahead almost immediately as a swift counter-attack ended with Schurrle switching the ball right to Eto'o, who cut inside Oxlade-Chamberlain before curling a delightful shot past Wojciech Szczesny.
Arsenal soon found themselves exposed once again. Nemanja Matic dispossessed Santi Cazorla before finding Schurrle and the Germany forward capitalised on defenders backing off by firing into the bottom-left corner. Hazard added a third Chelsea goal from the penalty spot after his shot had been handled by Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The game was effectively over as a contest following the sending-off and Chelsea pulled further clear after 42 minutes when Fernando Torres, an early replacement for the injured Eto'o, crossed from the right for Oscar to convert.
Neither Oxlade-Chamberlain nor Laurent Koscielny emerged for the second half, which began with Szczesny denying Luiz after more good work from the lively Torres. Cazorla dragged a shot narrowly wide on the hour, before more Arsenal errors led to Chelsea scoring again in the 66th minute.
A sloppy pass from Rosicky found Oscar and the Brazilian beat Szczesny with a low strike that the goalkeeper could only parry into the net. Mourinho's men were not finished there and Salah, who had only just come on for Oscar, made it 6-0 five minutes later, beating the offside trap to break clear and score his first goal since arriving from Basel.
That ensured Chelsea scored six in a Barclays Premier League match for the first time under Mourinho, spoiling Wenger's landmark day.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho: "We started in an incredible way. In seven minutes, [the score is] 2-0 and the game is over. We started very strong. We really wanted to try to make Arsenal feel not comfortable, [with] the way they like to play. We managed to do that and [at] 2-0 after seven minutes the game is over because we were too strong for them.
"After that comes the penalty and the red card, even worse for them, but the game was resolved in 10 minutes."
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: "This defeat is my fault, I take full responsibility for it. I don't think there's too much need to talk about the mistakes we made. We got a good hiding. It's how we respond now on Tuesday night [v Swansea City] and the best way is not to explain too much the mistakes.
"Of course it's one of the worst days [in my career]. [The match] is over after 20 minutes and it's a long game after that. You don't prepare all week to experience that kind of experience."
|29 Mar 2014||v Crystal Palace (A)|
|05 Apr 2014||v Stoke (H)|
|13 Apr 2014||v Swansea (A)|
|19 Apr 2014||v Sunderland (H)|
|27 Apr 2014||v Liverpool (A)|
|04 May 2014||v Norwich (H)|