Miserable home debut for Mikel Arteta after Chelsea strike late to beat Arsenal

Tammy Abraham celebrates after his winner at the Emirates. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Mikel Arteta was denied his first win as Arsenal manager after a late collapse saw them lose 2-1 London rivals Chelsea.

Taking charge of his first match at The Emirates following a Boxing day draw against Bournemouth, the new boss saw his side surrender a lead to finish the game empty handed after Chelsea showed great determination after falling behind.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had given Arsenal a first half lead in a game they controlled early on, but the final ten minutes saw Bernd Leno gift Jorginho an equaliser and Tammy Abraham stab home from close range to take the three points back to West London.

The result means Arsenal have now won just once in their last 15 matches and new manager Arteta with just a solitary point to show after two matches in charge of the beleaguered Gunners.

A defeat was perhaps the harshest outcome for a spirited Arsenal side who performed admirably for much of the game, however the individual errors that have plagued their miserable season proved to be their undoing once more.

Having started the game very brightly, Arsenal’s first real chance came after just five minutes when David Luiz attempted a spectacular scissor kick from Mesut Ozil’s corner, but failed to connect properly for what would have been a sensational goal against his former club.

Despite all the early Arsenal pressure, Chelsea almost scored with their first attack. After being bundled over on the left hand side of the penalty area, Willian’s clever free kick found Mason Mount in the box but the youngster’s shot was too close to Leno. 

Arsenal however did take the lead with their very next foray forward. Ozil’s outswinging corner found the leaping Callum Chambers who directed the ball towards the six-yard box for a stooping Aumbanyang to power his diving header beyond Kepa. 

Aubameyang heads Arsenal in front (Reuters/Matthew Childs)
The Arsenal captain celebrates (REUTERS/Eddie Keogh)

The strike was the Gabonese hitman’s thirteenth goal of the season, taking him up to second in the Premier League scoring charts, four behind Jamie Vardy. 

Arsenal were in the ascendancy and they might have had a shout for a penalty when Lacazette looked to have been taken down by Kurt Zouma, however, the referee wasn’t convinced a foul had been committed.

The French striker was then gifted another opportunity from Nelson’s fine cross and Aubameyang’s knockdown but took too long to set himself to shoot and Chelsea were able to clear. 

As Chelsea struggled to impose themselves on the game, they found themselves forced into making a number of rash tackles, picking up three bookings in quick succession as Arsenal cruised.

Despite starting with a makeshift back four, the Gunners were able to keep the Blues at arms length, but their backline was further depleted when Chambers was forced off with a knee injury midway through the half. 

The injury aside, Arteta would have been pleased with what he saw from his side for much of the first half. However, Arsenal’s failure to take advantage of their dominance almost saw them caught out when an unmarked Zouma had the chance to equalise from a corner, but failed to make contact with an inviting ball at the far post. 

The Blues finally played their way into the game and finished the half stronger but were unable to fashion any meaningful chances to test the Arsenal backline.

Chelsea started better after the break too and might have found a equaliser within minutes of the restart but Ngolo Kante’s effort from the edge of the area lacked both the power and accuracy to trouble to Arsenal goal.

Arsenal seemed to sit deeper in the second 45, inviting more Chelsea pressure and only a fantastic block by Luiz prevented Tammy Abraham potentially finding an equaliser after substitute and debutant Tariq Lamptey’s through ball pierced the Gunners defence.

Abraham then leapt higher than Maitland-Niles from a corner but headed straight at Leno as a Chelsea equaliser seemed ever closer with 15 minutes to play.

A rare attack almost led to a crucial second goal but substitute Joe Willock saw his clever turn and shot fly the wrong side of Kepa’s left hand post.

Bernd Leno flaps at Mount's free kick to gift Jorginho an equaliser. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)
Abraham fires through the legs of Leno to steal the three points. (Photo by Ian KINGTON / IKIMAGES / AFP)

The miss proved decisive as a Chelsea goal did come with seven minutes on the clock and it was a howler from Leno who completely lost sight of Mason Mount’s inswinging free kick from the left, allowing Jorginho the easiest of finishes from just a few yards out.

Controversially, the Italian had earlier escaped a second yellow card after appearing to haul down Matteo Guendouzi having already been booked in the first half.

Despite awarding the foul, referee Craig Pawson decided against taking further action and ultimately it was a decision Arsenal were left to rue.

Just three minutes later, the Blues found their winner. Arsenal pushed forward allowing Chelsea to exploit the gaps in their defence with a quick break, and when Willian played a low pass to Abraham, the young Englishman was able to turn and stab the ball through the legs of the hapless Leno.

The turnaround helped Chelsea to just their third win in eight league outings but opened up a four point gap to Manchester United in fifth place.

For Arteta, the scale of the job at Arsenal, who remarkably sit just six points above the relegation zone, was made clear.


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