Chelsea 3 Arsenal 5

Sometimes you sit back and wonder if something actually happened. Whatever the issues going into this crucial London derby, what did actually happen was that having been twice behind at Stamford Bridge, Robin Van Persie’s superb hat-trick absolutely destroyed a Chelsea side who did not know what had hit them. Having taken the lead from Frank Lampard, Van Persie netted his first to make it 1-1. His second came with the scores at 3-3 after a disastrous slip from John Terry enabled the Holland marksman to beat Petr Cech one on one to restore Arsenal’s lead at 4-3, and with the clock ticking down the Gunners made it a famous five from a blistering Van Persie drive with the Blues clueless as how to respond.

Gunners’ dreamland

In between, Andre Santos netted his first Premiership goal, Theo Walcott’s contender for goal of the month gave the Gunners a lead at 3-2, and one that they were not to relinquish, and not even Juan Mata’s controversial screamer for 3-3 was going to upset the carnival atmosphere that the travelling Arsenal fans had created inside Stamford Bridge. And with the home support dwindling at the end of the game, these red and white clad fans continued to sing and chant loudly just to remind the Blues what had happened.

The last time an Arsenal player netted a hat-trick at Stamford Bridge was in 1999 when Kanu’s memorable treble won the game that day. Given his rich vein of form going into this fixture, it came as no surprise when Van Persie claimed the match ball having previously netting a double on three occasions this season. But this game meant a whole lot more than that victory twelve years ago

Tussle

Chelsea made a lively start and their intention to attack Johan Djourou and Andre Santos at the back became evident. Fernando Torres had two gilt edged chances that he failed to take, and at the other end, the lively Gervinho and Van Persie were unable to capitalise of Walcott’s excellent crosses. Walcott was enjoying his tussle with Ashley Cole, and as Arsenal continued to push forward, the lack of bodies in the box was to cost Aaron Ramsey and Van Persie’s excellent wing play. With fourteen minutes on the clock, Chelsea took the lead. Terry’s raking pass found Mata, and his cross fell to Lampard and a free header. Nine minutes before the break, Arsenal levelled. Ramsey was getting good midfield positioning and when he fed Gervinho, the Ivory Coast striker slipped in Van Persie for a finish of precision and quality.

Commanding

In first half time added on, another defensive lapse let in Terry from Lampard’s corner with Per Mertersacker floundering as last man. The giant German will learn. Within seconds of the restart however Van Persie and Ramsey saw chances go begging, but the Gunners leveller was to arrive on 49 minutes. Alex Song fed Santos and with space ahead, the Brazil defender let fly to beat Cech and restore parity at 2-2. With pace and power, the game was as open like possibly no other Premiership game before. Wojciech Szczesny was commanding his area all afternoon, but picked up a yellow as Cole stormed forward to clatter Cole. The Pole then denied Lampard with an excellent save from the resultant free-kick, and it was Walcott who was to give the Gunners the lead for the first time of the afternoon

Venom

Clearly being fouled, referee Andre Marriner allowed play to continue after a quick free-kick, but Walcott’s momentum got him up from near the ground and then fire past Cech at his near post to make it 3-2 to the Gunners. Mata restored parity for Chelsea in very controversial circumstances. Santos was being held off the ball, but play was allowed to continue. The Spain midfielder let fly with a shot that got the better of Szczesny via a deflection. Crucially however, Arsenal did not panic.

Van Persie third

Only five minutes of normal time remained when substitute Florent Malouda passed innocuously to his captain. Inexplicably, Terry slipped and the lurking Van Persie needed no second invitation. The cool headed Gunners’ number 10 went one on one with Cech and intelligently rounded the ‘keeper to make it 4-3. Unbelievable scenes amongst the jubilant travelling Arsenal fans, and their day was going to get even better. Having repelled any Chelsea response, it was now a case of fitness levels. Van Persie found himself clear from a four on two break, and almost nonchalantly pacing towards the Blues goal. His left foot screamer for his hat-trick was struck with such venom that despite Cech getting a hand to the ball, he and Chelsea could not prevent an Arsenal rout that will go down in Premiership history as one of the best games ever. Oh how those Arsenal fans celebrated.