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.