EPL

Chelsea 2-4 Arsenal: Nketiah double gets Gunners firing again

By Sports Desk April 20, 2022

Eddie Nketiah scored his first Premier League double as Arsenal got their top-four hopes back on track with an entertaining 4-2 victory over Chelsea. 

Mikel Arteta's faith in Nketiah was rewarded as the 22-year-old ended a wait for a league goal that stretched back to April 2021 with the opener at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday. 

Timo Werner scored in consecutive Premier League games for just the second time in his Chelsea career to restore parity, before Emile Smith Rowe put Arsenal back in front. 

Cesar Azpilicueta got another equaliser for Chelsea, but he was at fault for Nketiah's second and a stoppage-time penalty from Bukayo Saka as Arsenal ended run of three straight defeats and went level on points with fourth-placed Tottenham. 

Andreas Christensen's bungled back pass was pounced upon by Nketiah and the attacker slotted a cool finish past Edouard Mendy to give Arsenal the lead in the 13th minute. 

Chelsea hit back four minutes later when Ruben Loftus-Cheek won possession high up the pitch and Werner unleashed a shot that deflected in off Granit Xhaka. 

Arsenal narrowly avoided gifting Chelsea a chance to take the lead and transitioned into a rapid counter-attack that finished with Smith Rowe placing a curling shot into the bottom-right corner. 

The Blues drew level before the break, though, with Mason Mount's excellent delivery steered home by Azpilicueta. 

Christensen made way for Thiago Silva at half-time, but Arsenal were back in front 13 minutes after the restart. Azpilicueta gave the ball away and Nketiah made the most of a couple of fortunate ricochets to double his tally. 

Azpilicueta then hauled Saka to ground in the box and the England winger fired the spot-kick home in the 92nd minute as Chelsea succumbed to a defeat that left them in danger of being dragged into an unexpected top-four battle.
 

What does it mean? Shoddy defending costs Chelsea 

Chelsea have lost three straight home games in all competitions for the first time in almost 30 years, and some sloppy errors brought on their latest defeat. 

They gifted Nketiah a pair of goals and were caught short when their high press was beaten ahead of Smith Rowe's strike. 

The Gunners were by no means in good form at the back, but some crucial blocks from Gabriel helped them secure a huge three points. 

Sublime Saka 

Marcos Alonso struggled to cope with Saka's dribbling ability as he proved extremely dangerous when Arsenal counter-attacked. He capped an all-action display with a deserved goal at the death.

Lacklustre Lukaku 

Thomas Tuchel handed Romelu Lukaku his first start in over a month, but the Belgian failed to impress. His 22 touches were the fewest of any Chelsea starter and he missed the target with his only attempt on goal. 

What's next? 

Arsenal entertain Manchester United in a game that could be key to their top-four hopes on Saturday, while Chelsea have another London derby against West Ham the following day. 

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    Rafael Nadal fended off a second early test of his Wimbledon mettle as he took four sets to see off Ricardas Berankis on Thursday.

    Just as in his opener against Francisco Cerundolo, Nadal dropped the third set of this match, but he regrouped, as he had two days earlier, to finish it in four.

    A 6-4 6-4 4-6 6-3 victory for the 36-year-old will do the job for round two, but it was laboured at times on Centre Court from Nadal, a day after title favourite Novak Djokovic delivered a masterclass against Thanasi Kokkinakis.

    Australian Open and French Open champion Nadal sealed it with an ace, his 16th consecutive win in a grand slam match, and the lack of polish at this early stage can be forgiven, given his lack of preparation on grass as he underwent treatment on his troublesome foot.

    World number 106 Berankis forced breaks to lead early in the second and third sets, and although the Lithuanian was pegged back quickly enough by Nadal on the first occasion, he held his nerve to take the third set.

    A rain delay came when Nadal was 3-0 clear in the fourth set, and that was only an inconvenience, Nadal wasting little time in finishing the job.

    With Matteo Berrettini and Roberto Bautista Agut both pulling out of Nadal's half of the draw due to COVID-19, and Denis Shapovalov losing on Thursday to Brandon Nakashima after reaching the semi-finals last year, it is hard to see who might deny the Spanish two-time champion a place in the final, unless Nick Kyrgios or Stefanos Tsitsipas fancy the task. Italian Lorenzo Sonego will be the next to try.

    Nadal said: "Every day is a challenge. That's the truth. I didn't play much on grass in the last three years. I need to improve, but I think the fourth set was much better. I think it was a good level of tennis in that set and the serve worked much better at the end of the match and I was able to play more aggressive, while at the beginning there were too many mistakes.

    "It's important for me to accept things are not perfect and just keep working, be humble and accept the challenge."

    Data slam: Going past Martina

    Nadal took his total of singles grand slam wins to 307 with this victory, taking him one ahead of Martina Navratilova, the nine-time Wimbledon champion.

    He moves up to fourth place on the all-time list for singles wins in the majors, behind only Roger Federer, who leads the way, Serena Williams and Djokovic.

    Nadal of course leads the men's slam race with an unmatched 22 slams.

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
    Nadal – 35/39
    Berankis – 35/35

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
    Nadal – 13/4
    Berankis – 3/3

    BREAK POINTS WON
    Nadal – 4/16
    Berankis – 2/5

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    Nick Kyrgios took a swipe at his critics after storming to a mesmerisingly brilliant second-round win at Wimbledon, setting up an appetising clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas.

    The 27-year-old Australian was largely all business and no nonsense as he won 6-2 6-3 6-1 in one hour and 25 minutes against 26th seed Filip Krajinovic, delivering the kind of performance that underlines his potential threat at this tournament.

    Yet Kyrgios had been far from his best against British player Paul Jubb in round one, eventually forcing victory by taking a tight fifth set, and his on-court behaviour came in for close scrutiny too in that match.

    Against Jubb, a line judge was prompted to speak to the chair umpire about Kyrgios, whose demands for some fans to be removed were punctuated by spitting towards a section of the crowd upon victory.

    Kyrgios spoke after that match of receiving "a lot of disrespect" from the crowds, while he also jousted with journalists in a news conference, before being angered by what he read afterwards.

    Sinking Queen's Club runner-up Krajinovic in such a classy fashion was described by the unseeded Kyrgios as his response.

    "I was pretty disappointed in my performance in the first round. Then obviously the media's disrespect and just everything, it was just kind of a reminder to put you all back in your place from the performance today," Kyrgios said. "He made finals at Queen's, top 30 in the world, seeded. It's a gentle reminder."

    Kyrgios hit 50 winners and made only 10 unforced errors, saying in an on-court interview that he had displayed "great body language".

    "I just wanted to remind everyone that I'm pretty good," he said, with a deliberately straight face.

    "I'm just happy. I've been working hard and I've been preparing for this tournament. It's been circled on my calendar pretty much all year, and I'm so excited to be here again.

    "I think it's my best chance to win a grand slam of all the four [majors], and I'll keep taking it match by match. I've got an incredibly tough draw still, and today I couldn't have played better and now I can just recover and get ready."

    Awaiting Kyrgios in round three is Tsitsipas, a straight-sets winner on Thursday against another Australian, Jordan Thompson.

    Kyrgios holds a 3-1 winning head-to-head advantage over Tsitsipas in their previous meetings, coming out on top when they met at Halle just a fortnight ago.

    That recent match means Tsitsipas has it fresh in his mind what it might take to topple Kyrgios, and the Greek fourth seed told a news conference: "He claims to like grass and his game is good for the grass.

    "I am thrilled to be facing him. I respect him a lot on the court and what he is trying to do. Even though he has been a little controversial in the past, I think he's playing good tennis.

    "I'm going to concentrate on doing my own thing and pay attention to my own game from start to finish. Hopefully I can have a great competitive match against him."

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    The world number one was taken to three sets by lucky loser Kerkhove in Thursday's second-round tie at Wimbledon but came out on top 6-4 4-6 6-3 on Court No. 1.

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    That would see the Pole hold the record for the most successive victories on the WTA Tour since 1990, something she would take great pride in.

    "I think another match to this number [37] is pretty special for me, but you know, when I'm out there, I'm not really thinking about that," she said in her on-court interview.

    "I'm just trying to play the best tennis possible on grass, and the result is going to come. I don't have full influence in it, but I'm happy that [the winning streak] is 37.

    "Now I'm going to do my best to get even more."

     

    Swiatek still has some way to go to match the all-time winning run, with the record held by Martina Navratilova (74 in a row during 1984).

    The two-time French Open winner was far from her best against world number 138 Kerkhove in a match lasting more than two hours that saw her broken three times.

    She dropped a set for just the seventh time during her incredible run, which stretches back to defeat against Jelena Ostapenko in mid-February.

    In doing so, Kerkhove became the lowest-ranked player to win a set against the number one female in the world since Carla Suarez Navarro – also ranked 138 – against Ash Barty at Wimbledon last year.

    "She played a really great match, and it seemed that she really understood how to play today," Swiatek added. 

    "But I'm really happy that I could sometimes just fight back and be the last one to play that ball in. I'm pretty happy that I'm going to have another chance to play here."

    Swiatek has now won 46 matches this year in total. In the entirety of the 2021 season, only Anett Kontaveit and Ons Jabeur (both 48) won more matches.

    Up next is former world number 11 Cornet, who is playing her 62nd consecutive grand slam tournament, which ties Ai Sugiyama for the Open Era record.

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