Two wins out of two, and despite letting a two-goal lead slip by half-time, the Blues triumphed in our first home game of the season thanks to Marcos Alonso’s late winner.
The other goals and the bulk of the many chances at both ends came in the first half of a gripping and open London derby. Pedro with his second in two games grabbed an early lead which was followed by Alvaro Morata’s first of the season – both good goals from quick attacks from the back.
However Arsenal matched us in making opportunities and despite missing some good ones, they made it 2-2 by the break through Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi.
In the second half we were steadier in defence and continued to press for another goal, and when Eden Hazard was introduced, the vital cutting edge was there to set up Alonso’s with 10 minutes to play, after which we successfully saw out the victory.
Chelsea came into this game off the back of our opening weekend win in Yorkshire, Arsenal from a defeat to champions Man City. Maurizio Sarri made no changes from Huddersfield, explaining before the game that Hazard is not ready yet physically for 90 minutes so he preferred to start the Belgian on the bench and bring him on when the intensity of the game is going down. It proved productive.
Arsenal’s new boss, Unai Emery, who like ours was facing his first London derby, made two switches with Nacho Monreal back fit in time to prevent a lack of left-backs, and Iwobi replacing Aaron Ramsey further forward.
What followed was a rollercoaster of game. David Luiz set the tone when he scooped an optimistic attempt to beat his old team-mate Petr Cech, the Gunners captain today, over the bar, followed soon after by a Pedro drive that had the same fate.
Mesut Ozil flashed the ball across the face of the Chelsea goal when he found the space to meet a Monreal cross but with another minute played, the Blues were ahead and what a fine, flowing goal from the back it was!
Jorginho was the player who received the ball deep in our half and he instantly spotted Alonso’s run. The Spaniard may be playing full-back these days but just like the wing-back of the previous years, he raced forward and with his second touch set-up Pedro to finish first time.
We had the lead in the ninth minute and Ross Barkley went close to doubling it before Kepa Arrizabalaga, who like Jorginho was making his home debut, made a relatively straightforward save from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Soon after and with 18 minutes played, Arsenal really should have taken the lead from a move similar to the one for the Chelsea goal, but Aubameyang blazed over wastefully. The Blues made him pay instantly with the fruitful combination of Azpilicueta-Morata from last season up and running for 2018/19.
It was a long ball from the back from Azpi which our striker collected before turning his marker Mustafi and slotting coolly past Cech. Another goal to admire.
All was going well when we went forward but defensively, Arsenal were too frequently finding ways through and on the half-hour another golden chance was put into the stand, this time by Mkhitaryan.
The Armenian however did redeem himself on 37 minutes when his powerful low drive found the bottom corner of the Matthew Harding End net. A Barkley pass to Willian was nicked off the Brazilian’s toes to begin the attack which reduced our lead to 2-1. Just before that goal, Cech had saved very well from Morata but we were pegged back to 2-2 four minutes after Arsenal’s first goal when Iwobi smashed in Mkhitaryan’s cross after Arsenal outnumbered us down our left-hand side.
Aubameyang’s toil in front of goal continued when he paddled a shot tamely wide and Iwobi turned the ball over from greater distance to conclude a half in which it been clearly attacks on top of defences.
Chelsea had a penalty appeal for handball turned down early in the second half when Sokratis blocked N’Golo Kante’s shot but in contrast to first half, the 15 minutes after the break were largely incident free.
Barkley powered through and drew a full-length save from Cech, who proved a significant obstacle to his former club today, but Sarri decided on a double switch with Hazard on for Willian and Mateo Kovacic making his debut by coming on for Barkley.
Chelsea kept Arsenal pegged back. Emery made changes too. Hazard created a moment of mayhem but there was no one in place to score from his cross.
On 72 minutes a foul on Kovacic won a free-kick but Cech was able to punch out David Luiz’s effort.
Giroud came on for Chelsea and Lacazette for Arsenal, the latter denied when Kepa was able to grab the ball just in front of him having parried a Ramsey shot.
With the final 10 minutes approaching, Pedro, who had been as lively as anyone, picked out Kante with his cross but the diminutive midfielder headed the chance over.
We were not to be denied the three points however. Hazard skipped past his man out on the left and teed up Alonso to sweep the ball through Cech’s legs.
Giroud, playing for the first time against his former side, was twice denied by Cech and the Gunners fired a shot from distance which had their fans on their toes, but it was west London’s day.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta (c), David Luiz, Rudiger, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Barkley (Kovacic 60), Pedro, Morata (Giroud 75), Willian (Hazard 60).
Unused subs Caballero, Christensen, Zappacosta, Moses.
Scorers Pedro 9, Morata 20, Alonso 81
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Cech (c); Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal; Xhaka (Torreira h-t), Guendouzi; Mkhitaryan, Ozil (Ramsey 68), Iwobi (Lacazette 75); Aubameyang.
Unused subs Leno, Lichtsteiner, Elneny, Welbeck.
Scorers Mkhitaryan 37, Iwobi 41
Booked Xhaka 27, Mustafi 77
Referee Martin Atkinson