It took five long years for Arsenal, but the Gunners thumped rivals Chelsea in dominating fashion yesterday at the Emirates with a 3-0 win. With the monkey finally off his back, Arsene Wenger must be a relieved man – the gaffer credited the team for bringing up the win with "style and steel".
Arsenal and Arsene Wenger had been stuck in a rut for quite a while when it came to Chelsea - Wenger's 500th match was spoiled by Didier Drogba as Mourinho's side scored a 1-0 win in 2005. Chelsea had turned party-poopers again when Wenger's 1000 came calling – this time it was a demolition as they stunned a ten-man Arsenal 6-0 in March 2014. A hurt Arsène Wenger had said, “Every defeat is a scar in your heart.”
Even when Chelsea plumbed the depths in 2015-16, they managed to defeat Arsenal 2-0 after reducing them to nine men. The reverse fixture, which came at a crucial juncture as the Gunners were three points adrift of Leicester City, was no less traumatic as skipper Per Mertesacker was sent off in a Diego Costa-led 0-1 win. In fact, Arsenal had not beaten Chelsea in the Premier League since October 2011, and had failed to score in their last six league meetings.
All that became history– as Alexis Sanchez led from the front at the Emirates Stadium yesterday as the Chilean alongside, Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil, pummeled the visitors to erase the angst of the past at least partially.
"I am very happy," said a delighted Wenger to BT Sport. "The inconvenient facts were there and we needed to change the recent history. We did it with style and steel. That's what we wanted.
"We were committed and disciplined and that is not so easy to find that balance in these kind of games. Overall I believe our collective rhythm was very good to give them problems.
We want to play this kind of game, based on technical quality and pace. I hope this kind of performance convinces the players that we are on the right path. We still have some room for improvement.
Wenger also heaped praise on the central defensive duo of Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi, who were outstanding on the night. Both had crucial roles to play as they seemed to come out of nowhere to thwart Diego Costa's dangerous attacks leaving Petr Cech with not much to do.
"They [the two centre-backs] had an outstanding performance," he said. "Both of them [were] committed and intelligent, technically sound, so overall I am very pleased."
However, some bad news was in store for Arsenal after Francis Coquelin left the field at the end of 32 minutes.
Wenger hoped that the defender's injury is not as bad as last year's when he injured the ligament.
"It is a knee problem," he confirmed. "It is in the same place he had last year.
"So I hope he is not out as long as last year."