20 years & still hungry

Arsenal's striker Alexis Sanchez zooming in to score the opener past Chelsea's goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. This was the first league goal Arsenal netted against Chelsea since January 2013.
Arsenal's striker Alexis Sanchez zooming in to score the opener past Chelsea's goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. This was the first league goal Arsenal netted against Chelsea since January 2013.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Almost perfect 3-0 win over Chelsea gives Wenger confidence Arsenal can fight for title

LONDON • Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is hungrier than ever for success after his side marked the 20th anniversary of his appointment by stylishly defeating Chelsea 3-0 on Saturday.

First-half goals from Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil at the Emirates Stadium swept Arsenal to a first English Premier League victory over their London rivals in 10 encounters.

It was the north London football club's biggest win over Chelsea since a 3-0 victory in Wenger's first meeting with them in April 1997 and left the 66-year-old convinced that, if these standards are maintained, his side can compete for the title.

"I'm hungrier because I know I have not got 20 more years in front of me," said Wenger, whose team rose to third place in the Premier League table on 13 points.

"I also feel a responsibility. You can't be 20 years somewhere and not care. I'm more conscious about what Arsenal is all about and I feel the weight of keeping people happy, and making people happy."

  • 12

  • The win against Chelsea on Saturday was Wenger's 1,128th match in charge since 1996-97. During that time, he has faced 12 different Chelsea managers:

    • Ruud Gullit

    • Gianluca Vialli

    • Claudio Ranieri

    • Jose Mourinho

    • Avram Grant

    • Luiz Felipe Scolari

    • Guus Hiddink

    • Carlo Ancelotti

    • Andre Villa-Boas

    • Roberto di Matteo

    • Rafael Benitez

    • Antonio Conte

Wenger felt his side's football had been "nearly perfect" in the first half and said their overall display was "one of our best performances of recent years".

The Blues have held something of a hoodoo over the Gunners in recent times.

Sanchez's 11th-minute goal, after a mistake by Gary Cahill, was the first league goal Arsenal had scored against Chelsea since January 2013.

Chelsea dealt Wenger a humbling 6-0 defeat in his 1,000th game at the Arsenal helm in March 2014 and he said that Saturday's win could mark an important mental breakthrough.

"We had to deal with some inconvenient facts before the game. We couldn't beat Chelsea for years," said the Frenchman, whose side host Basel in the Champions League on Wednesday.

"To get that out of the system was also at stake today. I think what was important for me was the psychological hurdle standing in our way. We mustn't make too much of it, but we can't ignore it.

"Between winning a big game and winning the Premier League, there's a long way to go. At the moment, Manchester City look a long way in front but, if we maintain the quality of our performances and stay consistent, we might have a chance."

The defeat left Antonio Conte without a win in three Premier League matches and it is clear his side's early-season momentum has fizzled out.

Chelsea have claimed a solitary clean sheet in eight matches and have conceded at least twice in their last four games.

"We didn't have the right attitude from the first minute," said the Italian manager. "We have not got the balance and it is incredible to concede three goals. Now we are a great team only on paper, not on the pitch where it counts.

"I have to solve the situation. Two at the back, three at the back, four at the back, I don't care. I just have to solve this. I must find the right solution for this team because, in every game, we are conceding two goals minimum."

The only concern for Wenger was a knee injury suffered by Francis Coquelin, which will be assessed today but renders him doubtful for the Basel match.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2016, with the headline '20 years & still hungry'. Print Edition | Subscribe