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Arsenal bounced back from their deflating loss to Manchester City by easing to a 3-1 triumph over struggling Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday to keep their Premier League title hopes alive.
Martin Odegaard scored twice in 13 first-half minutes before Gabriel Jesus added a third before half-time versus a Chelsea side that were all too accommodating to their London rivals. Chelsea offered more resistance after the break and prevented a more one-sided scoreline with Noni Madueke’s consolation goal midway through the second half.
But a vital three points was never in doubt for Arsenal, six days on from their 4-1 drubbing at the hands of City that placed the title initiative firmly in the grasp of Pep Guardiola’s champions.
Arsenal have now moved back above City by two points at the top of the Premier League, however Mikel Arteta’s side have played two matches more.
“Everyone was so hurt after the game [against City],” Odegaard told Sky Sports.
“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.
“Especially the first half was brilliant,” he added. “We came out and showed a different spirit to last time.
“We have to fight and keep going. We believe and will fight until the end.”
Meanwhile, Chelsea’s miserable season goes on with this their sixth defeat in six games since Frank Lampard was put in temporary charge.
Their fans were forced to endure taunts from Arsenal supporters that they would be heading for relegation. Despite their continued struggles, that remains a distant possibility, with Chelsea in 12th, nine points clear of the relegation zone.
Desperate to interject some life into Chelsea, Lampard named former Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the starting lineup for the first time in six months but he lasted only 45 minutes before being replaced.
From the first whistle, it was clear that Lampard’s changes would not have the desired effect.
It took 18 minutes for Arsenal to go in front. Granit Xhaka sent a low ball across the face of the penalty area where an unmarked Odegaard was waiting to drill a first-time rising shot in off the underside of the crossbar.
Chelsea soon fell victim to an almost identical goal. Again Xhaka supplied the pass from the left and Odegaard, this time meeting the ball on the penalty spot, finished firm and low past the beleaguered Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Three minutes later, some more lax Chelsea defending allowed Arsenal to make it 3-0. After missing multiple chances to clear the ball from a cross to the back post, Jesus slammed the ball in from close range.
Arsenal came close to adding to their advantage on several occasions at the start of the second half, including forcing Thiago Silva to clear off his own goal line.
But against the run of play, it was the visitors that found the net in the 65th minute. With just the second goal of Lampard’s tenure, January signing Madueke grabbed his first goal in a Chelsea shirt as he took a fine raking pass from Mateo Kovacic into his stride in the box and got enough on his shot to beat Aaron Ramsdale.
The goal at least prompted more intensity from Chelsea, but they could not come close to threatening Arsenal’s three points.