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Eddie Nketiah scores twice in a six-goal thriller to give the Gunners hope in the Champions League race

NOT since the Invincibles were in their glory have Arsenal had a chance to have a good ole laugh at Chelsea.

But here, after three straight defeats and with a centre-forward who hadn’t scored in the Premier League for a year, there was a night to be enjoyed for the Gooners.

Arsenal celebrate their fourth goal at Chelsea

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Arsenal celebrate their fourth goal at ChelseaPhoto credit: Reuters

They were happy The empty seats and boardroom of Stamford Bridge.

they laughed Chelsea’s empty defense.

And they rejoiced as Eddie Nketiah pulled off a double win, twice taking advantage of a team of European champions who chose to defend in clown shoes.

That meant everything arsenal equal on points with Tottenham in the race for the final Champions League spot.

Nketiah braces as the Gunners claim BACK in the top 4 races
Nketiah shows he can be a Lacazette substitute while White fights at right-back
Eddie Nketiah gives Arsenal the lead at Chelsea

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Eddie Nketiah gives Arsenal the lead at ChelseaPhoto credit: Jamie McPhilimey
Arsenal celebrate the opening of the scoring

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Arsenal celebrate the opening of the scoringPhoto credit: Jamie McPhilimey
Andreas Christensen gave Arsenal the lead

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Andreas Christensen gave Arsenal the leadPhoto credit: Rex

Next month’s North London Derby – just ten days before the end of the season – promises to be the most significant game of its kind in years.

Mikel Arteta’s struggling team seemed to have been thrown off course by those miserable defeats by Crystal Palace, Brighton and Southampton.

But here, in a remarkably open derby, they were gifted a way back into the mix.

Arsenal attacked purposefully and quickly. They also defended well in the second half.

And yet it was clear that Arteta’s team had been gifted three of their four goals.

It was Chelsea’s third home defeat in a row – they have conceded 11 goals in that time.

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Timo Werner equalized for Chelsea

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Timo Werner equalized for ChelseaPhoto credit: Jamie McPhilimey
Timo Werner celebrates equalizing for Chelsea

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Timo Werner celebrates equalizing for ChelseaPhoto credit: Jamie McPhilimey

While you can look forward to an FA Cup final next month, rest assured that opponents Liverpool will take their chances to throw themselves into this rabble.

Around 9,000 seats were empty, as anti-Putin sanctions kicked in after Roman Abramovich’s departure – but the casual Chelsea fans who may have bought tickets will feel like they’ve dodged a bullet.

Arsenal supporters turned everything upside down – ‘just like the old days, there’s nobody here’.

Just like in the days before Abramovich arrived and the Gunners could call themselves the best team in London.

Despite the game being hugely important to Arsenal, there was a carefree end-to-end feel from the start.

It felt like you were watching some buddies taking advantage of the longer evenings. If someone had declared “rush goalie” or “knockout Wembley” it wouldn’t have been out of place.

Emile Smith Rowe put Arsenal back in front

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Emile Smith Rowe put Arsenal back in frontCredit: PA
Emile Smith Rowe celebrates his goal

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Emile Smith Rowe celebrates his goalPhoto credit: Jamie McPhilimey

As soon as the team sheets were out, we could see that it wasn’t crucial for Chelsea – who will almost certainly not finish higher or lower than third – as Tuchel gave Romelu Lukaku his first Premier League start since February.

The tall Belgian soon shot well over goal after Wembley hero Ruben Loftus-Cheek rumbled forward and released him.

Then came the fun and games – four goals in 19 minutes.

Andreas Christensen started the party with a brilliant back pass that Eddie Nketiah allowed to latch on and pass Edouard Mendy for his first Premier League goal in more than a year.

Arsenal’s lead had butterfly life – Loftus-Cheek won the ball and fed Timo Werner, whose shot took a nasty deflection off Granit Xhaka’s heel, giving Aaron Ramsdale no chance.

Then a second Arsenal goal – and the kind that Arsene Wenger used to dream of.

Cesar Azpilicueta brought Chelsea back to the level

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Cesar Azpilicueta brought Chelsea back to the levelPhoto credit: Jamie McPhilimey
Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta celebrates equalizing

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Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta celebrates equalizingCredit: AP

Xhaka started it all with some Fred Astaire footwork on the edge of the box. On the sharp end, Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard combined for Smith Rowe to pin it in the corner of the net with a bedtime story.

Chelsea, however, reacted quickly again – Mason Mount won the ball, knocked over Mo Elneny and rolled into a low center that hit Azpilicueta at the near post.

Smith Rowe, with four men around him, somehow squirmed free but shot just wide.

It was all pleasantly chaotic. The defense is temporarily absent. This isn’t the kind of match that elite trainers enjoy, but as light entertainment for the masses it was fine.

Tuchel responded by replacing the hapless Christensen with Thiago Silva at half-time – but somehow the Chelsea defense managed to get even worse.

Azpilicueta played a sleepy pass to Arsenal full-back Nuno Tavares which centered on Nketiah.

The young striker was surrounded by Thiago, N’Golo Kante and Malang Starr – who gave a collective pig’s ear as they tried to clear and allowed Nketiah three jabs before drilling into the net.

Eddie Nketiah pokes around in his second of the game

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Eddie Nketiah pokes around in his second of the gamePhoto credit: Reuters
Eddie Nketiah celebrates Arsenal 3-2

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Eddie Nketiah celebrates Arsenal 3-2Photo credit: AFP

Tuchel, visibly seething, pulled off Lukaku amid a chorus of boos – aimed at the striker rather than the decision to withdraw him – and introduced Kai Havertz.

Ramsdale spilled a shot from Reece James which was clearly messed up but Arsenal generally looked solid and composed.

And then, in the 90th minute, another flash of inspiration from Azpilicueta, who wrestled over Saka off the ball.

Ref Jon Moss pointed to the spot and Saka rammed it home before celebrating with the reveling Gooners – who laughed their way all the way back across town.

Cesar Azpilicueta fouled Bukayo Saka, resulting in a penalty

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Cesar Azpilicueta fouled Bukayo Saka, resulting in a penaltyPhoto credit: Reuters
Bukayo Saka places the penalty home

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Bukayo Saka places the penalty homePhoto credit: Getty

https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/football/18323063/chelsea-arsenal-eddie-nketiah-champions-league/ Eddie Nketiah scores twice in a six-goal thriller to give the Gunners hope in the Champions League race

Ashley

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