Arsenal’s unlikely heroes shine as Eddie Nketiah and Mohamed Elneny help inspire Gunners back to form

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·3-min read
Arsenal’s unlikely heroes shine as Eddie Nketiah and Mohamed Elneny help inspire Gunners back to form
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If you were going to pick the players that would inspire Arsenal to victory at Stamford Bridge, then Eddie Nketiah and Mohamed Elneny would not have been top of your list.

Before tonight Nketiah had not scored a Premier League goal all season, while Elneny had not made an appearance since New Year’s Day.

You would not have guessed it against Chelsea, though, as the pair rose to the occasion and fired Arsenal to a shock 4-2 win.

Mikel Arteta’s side came into this game on the back of three losses in a row, but they have now breathed life into their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League. They are level on points with Tottenham, who are one place ahead of them in fifth, and next month’s north London derby looks a mouthwatering prospect.

This was a crazy match at Stamford Bridge, played at a blistering pace and full of drama. The first-half, in particular, was a bonkers affair and it finished 2-2, but could have been double that.

Nketiah opened the scoring and his goal was reward for hard work, as he pressed Andreas Christensen and capitalised on his poor back-pass.

The finish was cool, though, and the same could be said for Emile Smith Rowe, who scored to complete a slick counter.

Both those Arsenal goals, however, were pegged back by Chelsea as first Timo Werner and then Cesar Azpilicueta equalised. It deflated Arsenal and, given their recent run of form, you wondered how they would respond.

The answer was emphatic and as, Chelsea continued to be lacklustre in the second-half, Arsenal took full advantage.Nketiah restored their lead with more hard work coinciding with sloppy Chelsea defending. Even Thiago Silva, who was thrown on at half-time, couldn’t stop the rot.

After that goal, Arsenal had 30 minutes to get through and it required all hands to the pump. At the heart of it was Elneny as he pressed and harried in the middle of the park.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

He is hardly the most glamorous player, but on occasions like this sometimes what you need is a player prepared to run through brick walls for the cause.

Behind Elneny, Arsenal’s defence held firm, which they had failed to do in the first-half, with Rob Holding another unlikely hero. He was handed a rare start as Arsenal shifted to a back-three to match Chelsea.

There was, however, some familiarity about Arsenal’s fourth scorer as Bukayo Saka completed the victory late on.

He won a penalty after Azpilicueta charged into the back of him and immediately grabbed the ball to take it.

That brought back visions of last summer, when Saka stepped up but missed for England’s as they lost the final of Euro 2020.

This time, he made no mistake as he fired the ball past Edouard Mendy and sprinted towards the Arsenal fans.

The emotion poured out of Saka and the away end was equally jubilant. Just when Arsenal’s top-four push seemed dead, it has come back to life.

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