Title challengers Arsenal entered this London derby against Chelsea in poor form. After building a strong lead in the Premier League, Arsenal have dropped down to second – one point behind Manchester City, who have a game in hand. In their last 4 matches, Arsenal have failed to win, notably losing 4-1 loss against Manchester City last time out. Chelsea have been in even worse form as they entered this match sitting twelfth in the league, far below expectations. They’d lost 5 straight matches in all competitions, and hadn’t won in eight.
Mikel Arteta’s side once again lined up in a 4-3-3, with defender Jakub Kiwior coming in for Rob Holding while Jorginho replaced Thomas Partey in the midfield. Arteta also made the decision to replace top scorer Gabriel Martinelli with Leandro Trossard on the left wing.
Following a disappointing performance against Brentford, Frank Lampard’s side switched to a 4-3-3. Trevoh Chalobah and Conor Gallagher were moved to the bench for this match, with winger Noni Madueke and forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang taking their spots in the starting lineup.
ARS: Ramsdale; Zinchenko, Gabriel, Kiwior, White; Xhaka, Jorginho, Ødegaard; Trossard, Jesus, Saka
CHE: Arrizabalaga; Chilwell, Silva, Fofana, Azpilicueta; Kovacic, Fernández, Kanté; Sterling, Aubameyang, Madueke
Arsenal began fighting for a goal that would see them take the lead in the title race, and in the 13th minute, they got a chance. Jorginho found Trossard on the left wing, and the Belgian sent in a cross for Gabriel Jesus, who headed a floating shot at the top right corner – that was deflected by Kepa Arrizabalaga.
A few minutes later though, they got their goal. Jesus found Granit Xhaka on the left wing, who sent a beautiful low cross to the edge of the box for Martin Ødegaard. Ødegaard sent a gorgeous strike at goal which crashed in off the crossbar, giving Arsenal an early 1-0 lead.
Chelsea began searching for an equaliser, and they came close as N’Golo Kanté sent a long ball forward on the left for Ben Chilwell. He danced around Bukayo Saka’s flopping challenge, running forward along the left side of the box, with Arsenal defenders in pursuit. He got off a shot that was saved by Aaron Ramsdale before trickling out for a corner.
That was Chelsea’s last good chance for a while, as Arsenal continued to dominate. The Gunners got their second goal as Trossard broke free from two defenders on the left wing, sending a short pass to Xhaka. Once again, Xhaka delivered a low cross that made its way past several Chelsea defenders before finding an open Ødegaard in the centre of the box. Ødegaard calmly sent it past Kepa for his second goal of the game, giving Arsenal a 2-0 lead.
Minutes later, Arsenal extended their lead. After a Chelsea clearance, the ball ended up at Ben White’s feet on the right wing, and the full-back sent in a cross for Jesus on the left side of the box. The Brazilian struggled to get a hold of it and gave it to Xhaka, who tried a shot. His shot was blocked by Wesley Fofana, but Jesus got the rebound and put it past Kepa to add to Arsenal’s advantage.
Half-time followed, and Arsenal kept pushing as the second half began. Not long into the final 45 minutes, Trossard whipped in a cross that Gabriel knocked towards goal with his shoulder. It would’ve been a goal if not for the heroics of Thiago Silva, who managed to juggle it on the line and clear.
Arsenal kept pushing for a goal and they found themselves in Chelsea’s territory once again. Saka passed it just outside the box for Xhaka, who got around Fofana and sent a low shot at goal – though that effort was saved by Kepa.
Chelsea finally found the back of the net in the 68th minute. Mateo Kovacic launched a beautiful pass from midfield into the box for Madueke, who was cutting in from the right wing. Gabriel attempted to thwart the threat by body slamming into Madueke, but it was too late as the ball sailed over Aaron Ramsdale and over the line.
We’ve seen teams mount late comebacks against Arsenal recently, and you’d be forgiven for thinking the same could happen again… but this is Chelsea we’re talking about, and Frank Lampard is hardly the most tactically astute manager in the league.
This result sends Arsenal back to the top of the table, and with only four matches to go, they sit two points above City. However, Pep Guardiola’s side still have two games in hand. On the other hand, another loss here means that Lampard is still searching for his first point in his second stint at Chelsea, having started with six straight defeats. Chelsea remain at a disappointing twelfth in the table – 9 points from relegation. Chelsea will hope to break their losing streak against Bournemouth on Saturday, while Arsenal continue their title challenge next against Newcastle on Sunday.