Nketiah double sinks Chelsea as Arsenal boost top-four bid

LONDON: Eddie Nketiah boosted Arsenal’s bid for a top-four finish in the Premier League as the striker’s double inspired a dramatic 4-2 win against Chelsea on Wednesday.

Nketiah was released by Chelsea as a 16-year-old in 2015 and he exacted a measure of revenge with his first league goals this season.

The 22-year-old put Arsenal ahead early on at Stamford Bridge before Timo Werner equalised.

Mikel Arteta’s side regained the lead through, Emile Smith Rowe, only for Cesar Azpilicueta to draw Chelsea level again.

Nketiah settled a pulsating London derby when he punished shambolic Chelsea defending in the second half and Bukayo Saka bagged the fourth with a stoppage-time penalty.

After losing their last three games, Nketiah’s crucial contribution lifted Arsenal back into the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League via a top-four finish.

The Gunners are in fifth place, behind fourth-placed Tottenham on goal difference with both teams having six games to play.

Arsenal’s hopes of returning to the Champions League for the first time since 2017 face another vital test against sixth-placed Manchester United on Saturday.

FA Cup finalists Chelsea remain in third place, but they are now only five points ahead of Arsenal and cannot take a top-four place for granted.

Chelsea have conceded 11 goals in their last three home games and Azpilicueta’s frustration boiled over in an angry exchange with a fan after the final whistle.

Blues boss Thomas Tuchel admitted he could empathise with the fan’s angst.

With Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger absent from the start, Chelsea’s defending was extremely unconvincing and Arsenal took the lead in the 13th minute.

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