Arsenal restored their top four chase back on course with a 4-2 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening..
There have been banks of empty seats at the Stamford Bridge in what had been Chelsea’s very first home game with just season ticket holders in attendance, as federal sanctions meant the club could not put tickets in place for sale.
In a pulsating first half, chaos reigned with four goals flying in in the middle of a litany of defensive mistakes at both ends.
Chelsea were within five minutes of taking the lead, however Marcos Alonso’s close range shot was deflected into the net. Gabriel Magalhaes was then compelled to clear Mason Mount’s ensuing corner from beneath his crossbar.
After both Romelu and Gabriel Lukaku had gone close at one or the other end, Andreas Christensen’s terribly mis-hit back pass brought Eddie Nketiah completely clean through, and the Arsenal forward made no mistake with a low finish.
Four minutes later, however, the hosts were at level. This time, Nketiah ended up being the bad guy and gave the ball to Ruben Loftus Cheek, whose interception landed on Timo Werner. The German drew it out of his feet and his mis-hit low drive snagged Aaron Ramsdale’s near post.
Shortly after, Mount nearly gave Chelsea the advantage, but his rasping drive landed on the side of the goal. Then Bukayo Saka cut the ball back after a jinking run for Nketiah, however the singer conspired to strike his effort against his leg and it looped wide.
The half continued to be end-to- end, in addition to a wonderful counterattack led to a second Arsenal goal. The shift began with a nice nutmeg from Granit Xhaka, with the ball ultimately working to Saka wide. His pass discovered Martin Odegaard, whose layoff was first beautifully converted by Emile Smith Rowe on the run.
Chelsea took just a couple of minutes to locate the leveller, though, once again. Ben White gave the ball away wide under pressure from Mount and Werner, and the former’s superb cross was skillfully converted by wingback Cesar Azpilicueta, and the Blues made it through a VAR review for a possible foul in the build up.
Livewire Nketiah went close again from kick-off, launching a left footed effort from the edge of the box past post. In the final second of the half, Smith Rowe came inside a whisker of his second, creating some space within the box with some impressive footwork, but he was blasting wide.
The game settled down a little in the second half, but there’s always room for a defensive mistake to result in another goal before the hour.
Azpilicueta gave the ball away in midfield, even though Substitute Thiago Silva made a great challenge on Nketiah, Malang Sarr was not able to cope with the loose ball and Arsenal – Man was able to prod in his second before.Then Arsenal settled into a defensive shape and invited Chelsea to try and break them down. The closest they arrived at was when Reece James ‘cross-shot was pushed away by Ramsdale with twenty five minutes to play, and White produced an excellent block to deny Alonso’s follow up.
In the last minute, Saka secured the victory from the spot. The winger fell from the ball following a challenge from Azpilicueta with referee John Moss adjudging it to be a foul, and the England man stepped up to slot the penalty beyond Edouard Mendy..