Arsenal return to the top of the Premier League and Chelsea’s dismal run continues

Arsenal returned to the top of the Premier League with a fine return to form against London rivals Chelsea.

Having won none of their last four games, the Gunners cruised to a 3-1 victory by leapfrogging Manchester City for at least the next 24 hours.

Captain Martin Odegaard scored a brace as Gabriel Jesus sealed the points before the break, as Chelsea slipped to a sixth consecutive defeat under interim manager Frank Lampard.

Recalled Noni Madueke has scored at least a rare consolation goal for the Blues, who have now lost six of their last seven meetings with Arsenal.

While it was a night to remember for captain Odegaard, it was a night his predecessor will want to forget in a hurry, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang started for Chelsea for the first time since facing Arsenal on 6 November, but it only lasted 45 minutes before being replaced.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta had refused to rule his side out of the title race despite a four-game winless run that culminated in a galling defeat to rivals City last week.

This result puts them back on top, two points clear of City but having played two games more and with Pep Guardiola’s men in fine form ahead of West Ham’s visit on Wednesday.

Arsenal v Chelsea – Premier League – Emirates Stadium

Arsenal’s Martin Odegaard celebrates scoring his first goal (Adam Davy/PA)

Granit Xhaka had an early opportunity, but his close-range strike was saved by the legs of Kepa Arrizabalaga, who faced a busy evening.

Brilliant start for the hosts, with Bukayo Saka next to Kepa, the English forward’s header rejected by the Chelsea goalkeeper.

There was nothing the stopper could do shortly afterwards, however, only getting a glove for Odegaard’s fine finish from Xhaka’s cross with both players allowing time and space to give Arsenal a deserved lead.

Arsenal v Chelsea – Premier League – Emirates Stadium

Granit Xhaka helped Arsenal take control (Adam Davy/PA)

The same pair combined again for second, again with little to no pressure on either player as Odegaard pulled away from Raheem Sterling to score his 14th goal of the season.

Chelsea nearly replied through Ben Chilwell, but fellow England player Aaron Ramsdale blocked his shot with full force.

Lampard responded to an abject first half by replacing ineffective Aubameyang, who had just nine touches on his Emirates return, four of which were from a kick-off.

Archive photo by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had little impact on his return to Arsenal (PA)

It was Arsenal though who continued where they left off, Gabriel Magalhaes heading in a corner towards goal where his Brazilian colleague Thiago Silva checked on the line before clearing coolly under pressure.

Xhaka nearly went from supplier to goalscorer but Kepa parried his shot before Jesus could not contain an attempt with Arsenal rampant.

Chelsea would pull back a goal, just their second in eight games, as Madueke bagged his first Premier League goal after popping inside Oleksandr Zinchenko.

Arsenal v Chelsea – Premier League – Emirates Stadium

Gabriel Jesus, center, celebrates his goal with Oleksandr Zinchenko, left (Adam Davy/PA)

Mykhailo Mudryk, who had strong links with Arsenal before his January move to Chelsea, was introduced by the visitors six minutes later. He had a laser pen aimed at him on several occasions but saw plenty of ball as he tried to make the final stages jittery for the Gunners.

However, unlike in recent weeks where Arteta’s defense creaked under pressure, they stayed put to finish the game and secure a vital victory.

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