It’s that point in the season when the table matters more than some rivalries. In this case, the vaunted blue versus red, West London versus North, Chelsea versus Arsenal took a backseat.
In order for the Blues to nestle into 4th place in the Premier League without the aid of a tiebreaker, we needed Arsenal to get a good result versus West Ham. Thanks to Arsenal beginning the day 10th on the table, it felt just fine to give them a half-hearted ‘go get em tiger’ accompanied with a sly eye roll.
Just over a half hour in though, things weren’t looking good. David Moyes’ West Ham were running rampant and drowning Mikel Arteta’s Reds in a sea of bubbles. Jesse Lingard and Jarrod Bowen hit Arsenal for two in two minutes (15’, 17’) and Tomáš Souček added a third in the 32nd minute.
At this point in the all-important Live Table, West Ham and Chelsea were tied and the goal differential that gave Chelsea a narrow margin was reduced to seven. With Tuchel’s Chelsea focusing on stinginess but also not scoring many goals themselves, that was a significant development considering there was still an hour to play and West Ham’s third gave them one more goal scored in twenty-nine matches than Chelsea (45 versus 44).
Then things got hilarious.
Six minutes after scoring, Souček displayed an admirable empathy for the loneliness of the net at the other end and decided to do something about it by scoring an own goal. West Ham center-back Craig Dawson, inspired by Souček’s extreme benevolence, scored one of his own in the 61st.
In the 82nd minute Arsenal finally scored a goal of their own. Good for them, better for us! Alexandre Lacazette met a cross and headed emphatically into the back of the net and the comeback was complete.
West Ham blew bubbles, then a 3-0 lead. Delicious.
At the full-time whistle Arsenal hugged and shouted to celebrate the earned point to lift them to ninth (though Aston Villa are a point behind with two games in hand). As for Chelsea, we are now alone in the final Champions League slot, with West Ham’s two dropped points representing the difference.
Mighty Liverpool are now just three points behind the Hammers, and if Everton and/or Tottenham gain three points from their game in hand, both would leapfrog Liverpool and and pull within striking distance of West Ham (the Toffees would go level on points but — barring an 8-0 win — would still be behind on goal difference, and Spurs would climb to a point behind).
What a mess! Delighted we’re no longer in it.