Positive home start for Chelsea, who quickly took over the game with patient possession despite Arsenal’s high pressing from kick-off. In return they got an eight-minute goal from right winger Pedro, assisted by Marcos Alonso in a galloping run through the left, after knocking on the Gunners’ door a couple of times. From that point on, it was all on us to keep exploiting our opponent’s “slow as a snail” defence.
Arsenal did get a few chances after the opening goal, including a clear cut one in which Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang just wasted youngster Mattéo Guendouzi’s great secondary assist to Héctor Bellerín. And fate quickly struck back, as Álvaro Morata ended his goalless spell by scoring Chelsea’s second with an assist from César Azpilicueta. As they say, when you do not score, the other side does. Better yet, the Spanish connection/telepathic sync continues!
But then Chelsea relaxed, and Arsenal pegged back. Henrikh Mkhitaryan failed to convert a chance as easy as PEA’s, allowed by defensive hiccups from Jorginho and Ross Barkley. The second one, a shot outside the box after Willian lost the ball in defence, was much harder to convert. However, he did.
And then there was Mhkitaryan returning the favour to striker Alex Iwobi, whose deflected pass assisted the Armenian’s score. Both of them with loads of space to do whatever they wanted to on our very fragile defence, with midfield again lacking in structure. 2-2 between the London rivals at the half, with Chelsea suffering a lot not to allow more goals from the Gunners at the end of the first 45 minutes.
High pressing against high pressing is how the second half began. And with Arsenal’s biggest purchase of the summer, midfielder Lucas Torreira, getting his debut as a half-time substitute in place of Granit Xhaka.
Unlike the first half, both sides did not continue to show their best in offence, and their absolute worst in defence. Their struggles remained, and they were quite similar —problems in midfield translating into defenders clashing heads between themselves.
Kovacic got his Chelsea debut at the 60th minute, with Eden also coming from the bench. They would enter the pitch in place of Ross Barkley and Willian respectively, with Sarri hoping they could spark Chelsea to a win today.
With Eden and Kovacic on the pitch, Chelsea’s control of the game improved by a whole lot. We would cash in on it 23 minutes later, Eden beating Lacazette on the left flank to cross the ball into Arsenal’s penalty box, and help Alonso stay on his path as a goalscoring defender.
3-2 to the good guys, which could have been way more if it was not for Petr Cech having some heroic efforts to keep his team in the fight. Good days!
- Unchanged lineup from last weekend, with Antonio Rüdiger and David Luiz holding the centre of our defence, Marcos Alonso and César Azpilicueta on the flanks. However, against a much nastier attacking side in Arsenal, they exposed their frailties.
- Ross Barkley starts, although it feels that Mateo Kovacic — who was a bench option today, in place of Ruben Loftus-Cheek — will be the one seeing the pitch in his place once the Croatian is back to full fitness.
- Jorginho, for all the praise he got in his Premier League debut, was not as good in his second match for Chelsea. He did initiate Alonso’s play to set up Pedro’s goal. However, he was found out too often at the wrong position when we had to defend.
- Willian’s left wing experiment continues, and it is clear that he is not too comfortable there. Pedro, meanwhile, thrives in his inside forward role on the opposite flank.
- Please get Eden back to fitness ASAP.
- And at long last, Morata’s bad pre-season spell is broken! It was bound to happen soon — but it is much sweeter that he broke this season’s duck against Arsenal, of all teams!
- Next weekend, a trip to Newcastle is in line. Time to beat them Magpies, and keep the winning streak up!