LONDON — Arsenal secured a huge win away at Chelsea, as the Gunners came out on top in a six-goal thriller in an enthralling London derby.
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The game went back and forth in the first half at a frantic pace as Arsenal twice took the lead through Eddie Nketiah and Emile Smith Rowe, but Chelsea twice equalized through Timo Werner and Cesar Azpilicueta.
Nketiah put Arsenal 3-2 up early in the second half with a cool finish and the brilliant Bukayo Saka smashed home the penalty kick to make it 4-2 as Arsenal won a vital three points. They are now level on points with fourth-place Tottenham (57) and have played the same number of games as their north London rivals.
Chelsea’s defeat is their third in a row at home in all competitions. The last time that happened was November 1993.
Chelsea vs Arsenal final score, stats
Chelsea 2-4 Arsenal
Goals scored: Nketiah 13′, Werner 17′, Smith Rowe 27′, Azpilicueta 32′, Nketiah 57′, Saka 93′
Shots: Chelsea 11, Arsenal 14
Shots on target: Chelsea 2, Arsenal 4
Possession: Chelsea 68, Arsenal 32
Three things we learned from Chelsea vs Arsenal
1. Saka sensational: This was Bukayo Saka at his very best. Arsenal played the ball out to him time and time again and he bamboozled Marcos Alonso on multiple occasions as he cut in from the right flank. Nutmegs, tricks, flicks, clever passes, Saka showed it all. He whipped in some great crosses which Nketiah and Arsenal’s other forward runners couldn’t make the most of and if Saka had a prolific goalscorer to aim for, he could lead the Premier League in assists. He’s had a bit of an inconsistent season but this was Saka at his very best.
2. Defensive upgrades needed for both: Sure, Chelsea rotated their lineup with Christensen, James and Sarr starting at center back, but the fact Thiago Silva came on at half time for Christensen said it all. Chelsea needed the 37-year-old to bring some stability as Christensen made a huge mistake for Arsenal’s opener and without Rudiger, they never looked comfortable. With Apzilicueta, Rudiger and Christensen all potentially leaving this summer, Chelsea’s need for a new center back (or two) is vital. Without Tomiyasu and Tierney, Arteta moved White to right back and brought in Holding and the Gunners also looked dodgy at the back. They could bring back Saliba from his loan spell to bolster their defensive options but if Arsenal qualify for the Champions League they mostly need cover for their back four.
3. Can Nketiah be Arsenal’s main man?: Ever since Aubameyang left in January and nobody was brought in to replace him there has been a huge hole to fill in Arsenal’s attack. Perhaps the answer was there all along? Alexandre Lacazette has hinted he will leave this summer when his contract expires and so too has Nketiah unless he gets regular game time. Arteta has always rated Nketiah but he has never really given the England youth international a run in the team and his first two PL starts were at Southampton at the weekend and this game. With Lacazette’s recent absence Arteta was forced to play Nketiah and the academy product took his chance with two fine finishes and a tireless display. He will need to score a few more between now and the end of the season to prove he can be Arsenal’s go-to striker next season. They will likely sign another forward but Nketiah has shown he can step up when called upon. At 22 years old he can deliver.
Man of the Match: Bukayo Saka – Lovely run in the lead up to Smith Rowe’s goal and turned Alonso inside out. Everything ran through him and scored the late penalty kick.
Game explodes into life
Chelsea had a few decent chances early on as Marcos Alonso’s shot was deflected wide, then Gabriel had to head off his own line from the corner.
At the other end Gabriel was found by Granit Xhaka but his low shot was saved well by Edouard Mendy, then Lukaku dragged a shot harmlessly wide.
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Arsenal then took the lead as a terrible mistake from Andreas Christensen saw him under-hit his back pass and Nketiah latched onto it and slotted home calmly to send the away fans wild.
Goals, and mistakes, galore
Their joy didn’t last for long as Werner equalized via a shot which deflected off Granit Xhaka (who turned his back) to make it 1-1, then Mason Mount spanked a superb effort just over.
Arsenal then regained the lead as Granit Xhaka led a superb counter attack which saw Saka set up Smith Rowe to stroke home.
But then, of course, Chelsea equalized. Mason Mount whipped in a great cross from the left and Azpilicueta popped up to make it 2-2.
Gunners ease to victory
Arsenal had plenty of chances after that equalizer as Saka caused havoc with Smith Rowe and Tavares both going close.
Early in the second half Arsenal regained the lead as Nketiah caused chaos in the box and slotted home his second and Arsenal’s third.
Nuno Tavares should have wrapped up the win late on for Arsenal but Saka did as he scored from the penalty spot.