Arsene Wenger played an absolute blinder in Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium this evening.
The Gunners were 2-0 up inside 14 minutes thanks to goals from Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott.
The Chilean capitalised on Gary Cahill’s mistake to beat a helpless Thibaut Courtois and exactly two minutes and 21 seconds later, Walcott finished off an exquisite Arsenal move.
Arsene Wenger marked his 20th anniversary at Arsenal this week and it was a truly spectacular way to round off the celebrations.
He outclassed his counterpart, Antonio Conte, even despite fans’ concerns pre-game about Granit Xhaka’s exclusion from the starting line-up.
GiveMeSport has a look at the three decisions Wenger made that ensured Arsenal cruised to victory.
1. Playing Alexis Sanchez as a striker
Wenger took plenty of flak when he began to play Sanchez up front on his own.
The Frenchman left Olivier Giroud and summer signing Lucas Perez, both natural strikers, on the bench. And it worked a charm.
Putting either Giroud or Perez into the starting XI meant Wenger would have left out one of his midfield stars. Arsenal are full of talent in midfield, from Santi Cazorla in the centre of the park to Mesut Ozil and Alex Iwobi in attacking-midfield positions.
So by starting Sanchez, Wenger didn’t risk reducing the talent in his team at the expense of including a natural striker. And as the Chilean proved today, he knows where the goal is.
2. Using Theo Walcott to limit Eden Hazard’s threat
Eden Hazard has enjoyed an impressive return to form this season but at the Emirates, he was ineffective.
The reason why? He had Walcott on his every step.
Wenger urged Walcott to help Hector Bellerin out in his task of extinguishing Hazard’s threat and he completed his task superbly.
Walcott has struggled to win over the fans, and Wenger, but he did his chances of earning more minutes no harm by showing his defensive work rate.
He also got on the scoresheet, too. A fine performance.
3. Introducing Kieran Gibbs in the second half
Sixty-nine minutes had passed when Wenger decided to make his first unforced substitute of the game, bringing on Kieran Gibbs in place of Alex Iwobi.
The sub came at a time when Chelsea were beginning to show signs of getting back into the game. Conte had nothing to lose and so urged his players forward.
Yet when Gibbs arrived, Chelsea’s pressure quickly subsided. There were more defenders for the Blues to deal with and Gibbs also offered an attacking outlet on the counter-attack.
Taking off Iwobi also means that the 20-year-old will be fresh for Wednesday’s Champions League encounter against Basel.