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Chelsea prevail despite Conte sending off while Arsenal annihilate Huddersfield Town

The Chelsea manager was sent off in the first half following his reaction to Chelsea not getting a corner.

Image: EMPICS Sport

Chelsea 1-0 Swansea

CHELSEA KEPT their Premier League title hopes alive with a 1-0 win over Swansea as Blues boss Antonio Conte was sent to the stands for a furious touchline rant.

Conte lost his cool late in the first half at Stamford Bridge, earning his marching orders after blasting fourth official Lee Mason following referee Neil Swarbrick’s failure to award Chelsea a clear corner.

Chelsea weren’t troubled by their manager’s absence from the bench and clinched the points early in the second half when Germany defender Antonio Rudiger headed his first league goal since his pre-season move from Roma.

Despite recording a fifth win in their last six league games, third placed Chelsea remain well behind leaders Manchester City and it will take a major surge for the champions to successfully defend the title.

With a host of matches against teams outside the top half of the table coming up in December, they will hope to at least close the gap on City heading into the new year.

Swansea stay second bottom as the pressure mounts on boss Paul Clement, whose team are without a win in six league games and haven’t scored in their last four.

It was far from a vintage display from Chelsea, with Conte’s decision to rest Eden Hazard after his fine performance in Saturday’s draw at Liverpool depriving the Blues of their creative catalyst.

Hazard wasn’t the only one given a breather by Conte as defender Cesar Azpilicueta was out of the Chelsea starting line-up in a league game for the first time since December 2015.

After a sluggish start on a freezing evening, Chelsea should have had a penalty when Alvaro Morata was grabbed by the neck and wrestled to the turf by Swansea defender Mike van der Hoorn.

Despite Morata’s complaints, Swarbrick waved play on, but Chelsea were back on the attack moments later as Willian whipped an inswinging free-kick just wide.

Conte this week warned the players he has used sparingly this season not to grumble about their lack of opportunities.

Pedro, among those played less frequently by Conte, wasted a chance to catch the eye when he shot too close to Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski from a good position.

Swansea were utterly toothless without Tammy Abraham, the young striker on loan from Chelsea who had scored four times this season but wasn’t allowed to play against his parent club.

Chelsea went close again when Cesc Fabregas chipped a pass towards Morata, who was facing away from goal but quickly shifted his body for an agile volley that Fabianski tipped over.

When Willian drilled in a low cross that Swansea defender Alfie Mawson nearly deflected into his own net, it seemed only a matter of time before Chelsea took the lead.

But Swarbrick awarded a goal-kick instead of a corner for that incident and Conte responded with his angry tirade at Mason.

Sent off by Swarbrick, Conte retreated to the seats behind the Chelsea bench, where he continued to shout towards Mason before eventually calming down.

If Conte had struggled to keep his blood pressure down in the first half, the Italian must have been cursing again soon after the interval when Pedro wastefully blazed over from Willian’s cross.

But Conte’s mood was finally lifted as Rudiger broke the deadlock in the 55th minute.

N’Golo Kante’s shot from the edge of the area took a wicked deflection off Swansea’s Wilfried Bony and Rudiger reacted smartly to head home from close-range.

Morata almost finished off Swansea with a towering header that forced an excellent save from Fabianski, but despite their lack of killer instinct Chelsea had done enough.

Arsenal 5-0 Huddersfield Town

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Arsenal v Huddersfield Town - Premier League - Emirates Stadium Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the game. Source: Nigel French

Mesut Ozil produced a major second-half contribution as substitute Olivier Giroud scored twice in Arsenal’s 5-0 Premier League victory at home to Huddersfield Town on Wednesday.

It was the Gunners’ seventh win out of seven at the Emirates Stadium in the league this season and Ozil was influential with two assists and a goal in a four-minute period as the Gunners remained in the top four.

Alexandre Lacazette gave Arsenal an early lead before Ozil set up Giroud and Alexis Sanchez before scoring himself. Giroud then added a late fifth goal.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger played arguably his strongest side, with Ozil returning alongside Lacazette and Sanchez.

But in this first meeting between these two sides since January 1972, Huddersfield manager David Wagner made six changes to his starting XI.

It was a decision that appeared to backfire when Arsenal went ahead as early as the third minute when a superb move resulted in Lacazette’s seventh goal for Arsenal and fifth at the Emirates.

Granit Xhaka’s pass was flicked into the path of the Frenchman by Aaron Ramsey and he produced an expert left-footed finish to leave Jonas Lossl with no chance.

The hosts could have extended their lead as Ramsey shot over when well placed but at the other end Mathias Jorgensen headed over the bar from Chris Lowe’s free-kick.

Lacazette continued to put Huddersfield under major pressure and he was unfortunate not to make it two when his shot from the angle was cleared off the line by Martin Cranie, Sead Kolasinac unable to get a proper connection on the rebound.

Wenger’s side had been dominant but they may have gone in at the break all square at 1-1.

Shkodran Mustafi tangled with Steve Mounie in the penalty area but no penalty was awarded while Collin Quaner was unable to get a shot away after Laurent Koscielny recovered after the Huddersfield striker had appeared to go through on goal.

Lacazette failed to re-appear for the start of the second half, with Giroud coming on in his place.

Ozil saw his shot deflected harmlessly after good play by Sanchez down the left but at the other end Quaner was only denied by the feet of Petr Cech after a determined run into the area.

The game was becoming an open one and it took a last-ditch Christopher Schlindler block to deny Giroud and shortly afterwards Cech was fortunate to see his punch hit the bar after Mounie had caused problems in the area.

Arsenal should have finished the game off when Giroud rounded Lossl from Ramsey’s pass but he hit the post and then fired the rebound into the side netting.

A few nerves started to creep in around the Emirates but it was Ozil who responded with a brilliant contribution with two assists and a goal in four minutes.

First he exchanged passes with Sanchez before setting up Giroud who could not miss in the 68th minute. Just a minute later and Ozil’s cross from the right was volleyed home by Sanchez.

Wenger had said on the eve of this game that the pair would remain at Arsenal for the rest of the season and they responded to the veteran manager’s comments in the best way possible.

Ozil scored a well-deserved goal in the 72nd minute as he finished in cool fashion following a slide-rule pass by Ramsey.

With Huddersfield well beaten by this stage, Giroud went on to get his second goal of the night three minutes from time as he pounced on a loose ball after Kolasinac had run into the box.

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