Copy of 2024-04-23T204311Z_338990770_UP1EK4N1LJX7Y_RTRMADP_3_SOCCER-ENGLAND-ARS-CHE-REPORT-1713961481589
Arsenal's Ben White celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates during a Premier League against Chelsea. Image Credit: Reuters

London: Ruthless Arsenal threw down the gauntlet in the Premier League title race with a 5-0 thrashing of London rivals Chelsea to roar three points clear at the top of the table on Tuesday.

Any remaining doubts about Arsenal’s staying power were answered emphatically as Leandro Trossard gave them an early lead before Ben White and Kai Havertz scored two each in a dazzling spell after the break to sweep aside a dazed Chelsea.

It was a powerful statement by Arsenal who have recovered impressively from a home defeat by Aston Villa and bowing out of the Champions League and with four games remaining they are piling the pressure on Liverpool and Manchester City.

Arsenal have 77 points from 34 games with Liverpool, who face Everton on Wednesday, on 74 from 33. Reigning champions Manchester City have 73 points but have two games in hand starting with a trip to Brighton and Hove Albion on Thursday.

It was the sixth time Arsenal have scored five or more in a Premier League game this season without conceding and in such a tight race they now have a huge goal difference advantage which could prove crucial to the outcome.

“Very happy with the win, with the amount of chances and goals we scored,” Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, whose side face arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, said. “And with the clean sheet as well it shows the consistency.

“We will enjoy it and rest and get ready for the next one.” For ninth-placed Chelsea it was a humbling night as they suffered their heaviest ever defeat by Arsenal and a hammer blow in their bid to creep into a European place just days after their narrow FA Cup semi-final defeat by Manchester City.

“The team showed a lack of capacity to resist, that is what is the problem,” Mauricio Pochettino, who gave a first Premier League start to young right back Alfie Gilchrist, said.

“Arsenal are a very good team. But I think we allowed them to play.” BRIMMING WITH ENERGY Arsenal were brimming with energy in the opening half, peppering Chelsea’s goal with 13 attempts and would have led by more than one at the interval but for Chelsea’s Serbia goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic.

Flurry of saves

Roared on by a fired-up Emirates Stadium crowd the hosts needed only four minutes to settle any nerves as a marauding Declan Rice drove into the heart of the area and weighted his pass perfectly for Trossard to fire home.

Petrovic would have been disappointed to be beaten from a narrow angle but made amends with a flurry of saves in quick succession to deny Bukayo Saka and Trossard and then reacted incredibly to keep out a close-range deflection.

Despite being under siege, a Chelsea side without 20-goal Cole Palmer had their moments and Axel Disasi somehow failed to connect from in front of goal from a flicked on corner.

Nicolas Jackson hit the post and then inexplicably failed to head in a brilliant Conor Gallagher cross.

But Arsenal turned up the heat in the second half and Chelsea simply evaporated.

White made it 2-0 in the 52nd minute after Rice’s shot deflected to him off Thomas Partey and Havertz was then played through by an exquisite pass from captain Martin Odegaard and finished in style.

Former Chelsea forward Havertz made it 4-0 with a low finish off a post and White admitted he got a little lucky as his side-footed attempted cross turned into a deft finish.

“The second one was a bad touch and it went in,” he joked.

It could have got far worse for Chelsea with Rice hitting the post as Arsenal ran riot but the home fans left in euphoric mood as a first title in 20 years began to look within reach.