The Malta Independent 21 May 2024, Tuesday
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Havertz scores 2 as Arsenal rout Chelsea 5-0 to cement Premier League lead

Associated Press Wednesday, 24 April 2024, 07:04 Last update: about 27 days ago

Arsenal earned its biggest win ever over Chelsea as Kai Havertz scored twice against his former team in a 5-0 rout on Tuesday that solidified the Gunners' place atop the Premier League standings.

Ben White also got a second-half double against a dismal Chelsea team that collapsed after the break and saw most of the away fans leave Emirates Stadium well before the final whistle.

“It's a great night,” said Arsenal winger Leandro Trossard, who opened the scoring in the fourth minute. “The early goal helped us and after that we played so well. We had a lot of chances and we turned them into goals.”

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The win ensures Arsenal will go into the weekend with the league lead. Mikel Arteta's team is three points in front of Liverpool ahead of Wednesday’s Merseyside derby at Everton. Manchester City is four points back before it plays at Brighton on Thursday, with another game in hand.

For Chelsea, it was another dispiriting loss after a 1-0 defeat to Man City in the FA Cup semifinals on Saturday that ended any hope of finishing a disappointing season on a high note.

Chelsea's leading scorer Cole Palmer was absent with an injury but the manner of the team’s second-half collapse will only renew questions about what progress — if any — the expensively assembled team has made in its first season under Mauricio Pochettino.

The Argentine manager said his players “gave up” after Arsenal's third goal and lamented his team's inconsistency throughout the season, with Chelsea languishing 30 points behind Arsenal in ninth place.

“When we have bad days, we are so bad,” Pochettino said.

Arsenal's previous biggest league win over its London rival was 5-1 in 1930.

Pochettino, though, insisted he didn't feel let down by his players' overall effort, pointing to mitigating circumstances such as Palmer's absence, a young starting lineup and fatigue from what he called “an amazing performance” against Man City three days ago.

“I'm not going to blame the players," Pochettino said. “The circumstances are bigger than the performance of the players.”

Trossard gave Arsenal the early lead by beating Chelsea goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic at his near post from a tight angle. Petrovic made amends by single-handedly keeping his team in the game with a handful of good saves until the floodgates opened in the second half as visitors’ resistance melted away.

White swept home the second in the 52nd and Havertz added the third just five minutes later with a well-taken goal after being teed up by a perfect throughball from Martin Odegaard. The Germany international, who made an expensive move to Arsenal from Chelsea last summer, got another one in the 65th with a shot from the middle of the area, and White added to the rout with a fortunate second goal when his attempt at a volleyed cross sailed into the net in the 70th.

“The second one was a bad touch and it went in,” White acknowledged.

Pochettino responded by bringing on center back Thiago Silva to prevent the scoreline from getting even bigger.

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