Arsenal arrested their dreadful Premier League form with a huge 3-1 win over London rivals Chelsea.
Before today’s game, Arsenal sat 15th in the Premier League table, just four points above the dreaded relegation zone. Mikel Arteta needed a late Christmas present to quieten the calls for his dismissal. In a match of huge importance, he turned to Arsenal’s future, and they repaid him in droves.
Gabriel Martinelli had a chance to put the Gunners ahead within 30 seconds, but the Brazilian miscued his effort after Héctor Bellerín‘s cross reached him unexpectedly.
Chelsea then began to dominate possession, and nearly took the lead from a Mason Mount free-kick which skimmed the post. Arsenal then had a glorious opening, but could not capitalise on two advantages given by Michael Oliver; Bellerín’s cross evading both Smith Rowe and Martinelli.
Arsenal looked so much more positive and faster than they have in recent weeks, and their exuberance was soon rewarded. Kieran Tierney was bundled to the ground by Reece James in the penalty area, and Alexandre Lacazette converted the subsequent penalty. A thumping free-kick from Granit Xhaka doubled their advantage, and Arsenal took a deserved lead into the break.
While Chelsea returned with intent, Bukayo Saka‘s miraculous lobbed effort provided further security. Tammy Abraham’s late goal made for a nervy close and a late penalty for Frank Lampard’s men had hearts truly racing. Nonetheless, Bernd Leno saved Jorginho’s spot-kick to ensure victory for the Gunners.
This performance was everything that Arsenal fans have wanted. Passion, expression, and enthusiasm were clear for all to see. Here are your player ratings from tonight’s Christmas cracker.
Goalkeeper & Defenders
Bernd Leno (GK) – 6/10 – After Alex Rúnarsson’s unconvincing display in midweek, it was nice to have Leno back between the sticks. His late penalty save made the last few minutes a little more enjoyable.
Héctor Bellerín (RB) – 6/10 – While his impact was not as great as Tierney’s, it was a solid return for the Spaniard.
Rob Holding (RCB) – 6/10 – Has become a staple in recent weeks. Not the most comfortable with the ball, but his defending was solid.
Pablo Marí (LCB) – 6/10 – With Gabriel needing to isolate and David Luiz unwell, Marí was given the start at the heart of the defence. Despite conceding a late penalty, Marí will be happy with his performance.
Kieran Tierney (LB) – 8/10 – His galloping runs caused Reece James problems all afternoon. Robert Pires would have been proud of how he won the penalty.