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Five-star Arsenal thrash Chelsea to open up Premier League lead

Arsenal midfielder Kai Havertz celebrates after scoring against Chelsea. Photo: Glyn Kirk/AFP

Kai Havertz and Ben White scored twice as Arsenal thrashed Chelsea 5-0 on Tuesday to surge ahead in the Premier League title race and ramp up the pressure on Liverpool and Manchester City.

Leandro Trossard was also on target for the Gunners, who move three points clear of Liverpool and four of Manchester City.

The destiny of the title remains in City’s hands as the defending champions have two games in hand.

Liverpool have also played one fewer game than Arsenal and are in action at Everton in the Merseyside derby on Wednesday.

However, Mikel Arteta’s men’s goal difference advantage now looks unassailable should it become decisive in the title race.

Chelsea and Arsenal’s title rivals were dealt a huge blow before kick-off as the Blues’ danger man Cole Palmer was ruled out due to illness.

Palmer has scored or assisted nearly 50 percent of Chelsea’s Premier League goals this season and his presence was badly missed by the visitors.

Despite enduring a disappointing first season under Mauricio Pochettino, Chelsea had been unbeaten in eight consecutive league games prior to their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester City on Saturday.

But they were blown away by an Arsenal side keen to reaffirm their title credentials after losing their last home game to Aston Villa.

The hosts flew out of the blocks and were in front inside five minutes.

Trossard only ended up at the Emirates after Arsenal were gazumped by Chelsea in the battle to sign Mykhailo Mudryk in January 2023.

The Belgian has proved to be a far more productive signing and smashed in his 15th goal of the season at Djordje Petrovic’s near post.

Jackson avoids red

Chelsea were lucky to not have their bad start compounded by a red card when Nicolas Jackson escaped unpunished for a studs-up challenge on Takehiro Tomiyasu.

Petrovic redeemed himself for fault at the opening goal with two brilliant saves to turn away Havertz’s low effort and a deflected shot by Trossard to keep his side in the game before half-time.

Chelsea did, though, have chances to level before the break.

Jackson spurned three huge chances against City at Wembley at the weekend and was equally wasteful when he headed a huge opportunity into his own hand.

Petrovic briefly held Arsenal at bay early in the second period with saves from Declan Rice and Havertz.

However, the floodgates opened once White curled in Arsenal’s second after Chelsea failed to clear a corner on 52 minutes.

Havertz scored the winning goal in a Champions League final for Chelsea during his three years in west London, but he never performed consistently to the level he has found in recent months under Arteta.

Martin Odegaard’s stunning through ball was met with the finish it deserved as Havertz smashed high past Petrovic.

His next finish was more subtle as the German international fired in off the post from Bukayo Saka’s pass for his seventh goal in his last 14 club games.

A night for forget for Chelsea was summed up by another sitter from Jackson when he hit the side-netting with just Raya to beat.

And fortune was also not on Pochettino’s side when White’s attempted cross flew into the top corner from another sensational Odegaard pass.

Defeat leaves Chelsea still in ninth, three points adrift of the European places.

Next up for Arsenal is what appears their toughest hurdle remaining away to Tottenham in Sunday’s north London derby.

Should Arteta’s side prevail at the home of their fiercest rivals, City will likely need to be perfect in their final six games to retain the title.

Standings provided by Sofascore

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