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Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010

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Going full speed: Chelsea's Paulo Ferreira (left) and Arsenal's Samir Nasri vie for the ball at Emirates Stadium on Monday night. Arsenal won 3-1. AP PHOTO

Arsenal ends drought against Chelsea in decisive fashion

LONDON (AP) Arsenal scored three goals in 10 minutes to overwhelm defending Premier League champion Chelsea 3-1 on Monday night and keep the pressure on unbeaten leader Manchester United in the title race.

Alex Song, Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott found the net for the Gunners, who last beat Chelsea in November 2008 and hadn't previously scored against the same opponent since May 2009.

Despite Branislav Ivanovic pulling one back by heading in Didier Drogba's free kick in the 57th minute, Chelsea couldn't come back against a team it had beaten in its last five matches in all competitions.

"We concentrated on pressing, everyone was pressing — we didn't give Chelsea any space at all," Walcott said. "Everything went well. We made Chelsea look average at times. We played some great football and wanted to do it for the fans, because in recent years against Chelsea we've been disappointing."

Arsenal goes to Wigan on Wednesday two points behind United in second place, while Chelsea is six points off the lead and has slipped to fourth just behind Manchester City.

"The result had a double impact," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. "Mathematically, it keeps us in touch with the leaders of the league, and psychologically it was important. We were questioned about our capability of winning big games."

The win ends Arsenal's miserable run against United and Chelsea, who have shared the Premier League trophy between them since the Gunners lifted it in 2004. Arsenal had previously failed to beat either team in its last 11 encounters in all competitions.

But the loss compounds the problems facing Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti, whose side began with five wins in succession but has now failed to win in the league since Nov. 10.

"We're in a difficult moment," Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti said, seven months after his side won the league and F.A. Cup. "The table is not good but this is the reality. We have to wake up. Now we are sleeping."

Chelsea did, however, come close to breaking the deadlock after eight minutes through Drogba's wide attempt. But the visitors then struggled to impose themselves in the first half, even with midfielder Frank Lampard making his first start since August.

They did stubbornly prevent Arsenal from getting close to Petr Cech's goal despite all its intricate linkup play. Cech wasn't tested until Samir Nasri sent a tame, dipping free kick at the goalkeeper in the 22nd minute.

When Walcott broke free down the right flank four minutes later, Robin van Persie's failure to support the winger meant the attack came to nothing.

Likewise, Van Persie could have done with a teammate in front of goal instead of blasting over from a tight angle following a neat interchange between Fabregas and Nasri.

A deft chip from Nasri was heading for the top corner in the 41st before being tipped over by Cech.

Arsenal finally had something to show for its attacking bombardment in the 44th. Jack Wilshere slipped the ball into the penalty area, and Fabregas nudged it to Song as he was being fouled by Paulo Ferreira, allowing the Cameroon midfielder to shoot into the bottom corner.

Arsenal could have led by more by halftime, with its domination failing to spark a reaction from Chelsea.

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