Arsenal 3 Chelsea 1 – Rejuvenated Arsenal stun Chelsea 3-1; register first win after seven games
2020-21 English Premier League report: Arsenal vs. Chelsea – Saturday, 26th December 2020
Arsenal 3 Chelsea 1 – Emirates stadium
Arsenal rose from the ashes of their worst season since 1982 to record a significant win over city neighbours Chelsea at the Emirates stadium on Saturday night.
Mikel Arteta without the talismanic but out-of-form striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, made six changes to the side that lost to Everton in mid-week and gave first starts of the season to Pablo Mari, Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli all of whom returned from injuries.
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Watchers accustomed to sluggish starts by the Gunners were surprised as a youthful side came off the blocks right from the start.
A beautiful combining work Bukayo Saka and Hector Bellerin well within the first minute resulted in creating pressure on Thiago Silva whose nervy clearance fell to Martinelli but the young Brazilian scuffed his shot wide and a chance to go ahead was lost in as early as the 40th second.
Mason Mount tried reversing Arsenal’s dominance with a long-range free-kick that clipped the post. But the effort failed to ignite life into Chelsea’s game. In fact, the rejuvenated hosts were at the Blues once more as their pressure yielded their first goal.
Chelsea full-back Reece James was adjudged to have fouled Kieran Tierney in the box and Alexande Lacazette converted the resulting penalty by sending Blues goalkeeper Eduardo Mendy the wrong way to give the Gunners the lead in the 34th minute.
Granit Xhaka doubled the lead with a minute to go for the break as he struck a fine free-kick over the wall and beyond a stretching Mendy into the top corner of the net.
Frank Lampard replaced the ineffective Mateo Kovacic and the out-of-form Timo Werner with Jorginho and Callum Hudson-Odoi at half-time to revive the Blues’ fortunes but Arsenal looked to be at ease as they defended their lead and in fact, extended it even further when a swift counter-attack from the them resulted in Saka floating a shot over Mendy that went in off the post to make it 3-0 in the 70th minute.
The impressive Martinelli looked to have added a fourth when his acrobatic overhead kick
was somehow saved by Mendy even as Mohamed Elneny rattled the bar with the Gunners smelling blood. Tammy Abraham managed a consolation goal for the visitors in the 85th minute with the English international’s chesting his effort from Hudson-Odoi’s cross and surviving a VAR review for offside in the process.
Abraham’s goal seemed to have returned the Gunners to their usual ways as a nervy defense saw Thiago Silva’s header sailing over from close-range and Jorginho’s tame penalty effort being kept out by Jared Leno.
But the Gunners held on to record their first win after seven Premier League outings and remain on the 15th spot with 17 points, moving further away from relegation territory.
Arsenal starting Xi playing in a 4-2-3-1 formation: Leno (goal), Bellerin, Holding, Mari, Tierney, Elneny, Xhaka, Smith Rowe, Martinelli, Saka, Lacazette.
Subs: Willock, Pepe, Mustafi.
Chelsea starting Xi playing in a 4-3-3 formation: Mendy (goal), James, Zouma, Silva, Chilwell, Kante, Kovacic, Mount, Pulisic, Werner, Abraham.
Subs: Hudson-Odoi, Jorginho, Havertz.
Man of the Match: Bukayo Saka.
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