They aren’t used to losing, especially at home, but Chelsea have already conceded 11 goals in their previous three games at Stamford Bridge, resulting in three straight defeats in all competitions. This club urgently requires a new owner and a new direction.
Nonetheless, after so much mediocrity, at least one club appears to covet that final Champions League position. Arsenal took the lead three times on Wednesday night, and the final time they didn’t just retain it, but increased it.
Yes, Arsenal is still out of the top four, but only on goal differential. They are level on points and games played with Tottenham, but the chase begins in earnest with Manchester United’s arrival on Saturday.
Despite this, Chelsea should be fine in third place, but defensive form remains a concern. Thomas Tuchel’s stability has vanished. Andreas Christensen was hooked by halftime and was lucky to last that long. Chelsea should close the agreement with Barcelona as soon as possible.
But for Mikel Arteta, it was a fantastic night. The best team won, and his brave decision to go with Eddie Nketiah as his striker was rewarded with two well-taken goals. Alexandre Lacazette, the man he replaced, is supposed to be pining for the Champions League, as if he has no control over it. Nketiah showed him the path forward.
Many of Arsenal’s young players felt the same way. The kids on this team are the heart of the organization: Nketiah, Bakayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, Aaron Ramsdale, and Emile Smith-Rowe. Build around them and proceed from there. Arsenal’s future is in the hands of its youthful forwards, notably late substitute Gabriel Martinelli.
As important as Tuchel’s defensive abilities are, he will be as concerned that he used his £90 million striker in his first league game since February 19, and Arsenal had the stronger goal threat. After 11 minutes, Romelu Lukaku had one notable shot and didn’t quite make it to the hour before being substituted by Kai Havertz.
It’s difficult to see how he can get back here. Arsenal’s front line, on the other hand, is the young nucleus of a very excellent team. This summer, the club must fortify the area around them. Chelsea must also buy, but the emptiness in the stadium’s corners served as a reminder of the challenges ahead.
Even Tuchel was rather somber in the second half, slumped in his seat as Arteta became increasingly agitated, on the verge of a major triumph.
Arsenal’s night was over in the final minute, when Cesar Azpilicueta pushed Bakayo Saka to the ground and referee Moss correctly gave a penalty. Saka took the kick himself, sending Mendy in the opposite direction. It was exactly what the tourists deserved.
Arsenal controlled the game for 42 minutes, with the remaining 48 minutes split evenly between the two teams. Chelsea never had a lead, not even for a minute, and Arsenal outplayed Chelsea in either half. Although we’ve seen a lot of such under Arteta, their jubilation at the end suggested this could be a turning point.
Nonetheless, it was a fantastic game. We’ve watched so many beautiful halves of football recently – Chelsea and Manchester City in Madrid, Liverpool against both Manchester clubs – that it was almost refreshing to see one that had neutrals cheering and managers reaching for the painkillers.