Chelsea staged a stunning late comeback to snatch victory and wreck Mikel Arteta’s return to Emirates Stadium as Arsenal manager.
Arteta, taking charge of his first home game since succeeding sacked Unai Emery, looked on course for three important points after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s early header put the Gunners in front.
Chelsea, with manager Frank Lampard making a first-half tactical switch when he introduced Jorginho for the struggling Emerson, were gifted an equaliser seven minutes from time when goalkeeper Bernd Leno hopelessly misjudged Mason Mount’s free-kick to leave the substitute with a simple finish.
Arsenal were doubly frustrated because Jorginho was fortunate to escape a second yellow card for a cynical foul on Lucas Torreira – but Arteta’s home bow was to get even more painful.
Chelsea struck again with three minutes of normal time left, Tammy Abraham turning Arsenal substitute Shkodran Mustafi far too easily in the area to beat Leno and complete the smash-and-grab raid.
Arsenal, who lost defender Calum Chambers to injury in the first half, will start 2020 11 points behind fourth-placed Chelsea and without a Premier League home win since 6 October.
It is the first time they have lost four consecutive home matches in all competitions since December 1959.
Arteta learning the hard way
Arteta understandably looked downcast as he and his players took sympathetic applause from their fans after they were left stunned by Chelsea’s late surge.
Arsenal, for the first half-hour, dominated a desperately poor Chelsea and there was much to encourage everyone inside a vibrant Emirates Stadium as the new era kicked into life.
The Gunners, however, ran out of steam towards the end of the first half as Chelsea, helped by Lampard removing Emerson and sending on Jorginho, started to dominate and continued to do so after the break.
Arsenal were resilient but were hanging on and ultimately it was a calamitous individual error and familiar defensive fragility that was to prove their undoing.
Leno’s rush of blood left Jorginho with the easiest of finishes, although Arsenal certainly had a case to complain about his continued presence on the pitch after escaping that second yellow card.
And then Mustafi, on for the injured Chambers, was badly at fault when he allowed Abraham far too much time to control, turn and score the winner.
Arteta will have seen some good signs but ultimately old faults let Arsenal down. There is going to be no quick fix.
Leno’s costly errors – the stats
- Chelsea are the first team to win five away Premier League games against Arsenal at Emirates Stadium.
- Since his Premier League debut in February 2018, Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored 45 league goals – 22 more than any other Gunners player in that time.
- Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno has made more errors leading to goals than any other Premier League player since August 2018 (seven).
- Only Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling and Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy (nine each) have scored more away Premier League goals than Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham (eight) this season.
- Chelsea became the first team to come from behind at half-time to win away at Arsenal in the league since Tottenham in November 2010.
- There were nine yellow cards in this match, the most in a Premier League game this season and most since February, when there were nine in Bournemouth’s game against Wolves.
- After taking the lead in the 13th minute, Arsenal had just three shots, and none on target.
Arsenal have another heavyweight home game on New Year’s Day when Manchester United visit Emirates Stadium (20:00 GMT) while Chelsea are away at Brighton on the same day (12:30 GMT).
More to follow.