Chelsea overcame an “awful” start, said boss Frank Lampard, as they 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 the sacked Unai Emery, looked on course for three important points after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s early header put the Gunners in front. Chelsea, with 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 earlier 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 understandably looked downcast as he and his players took sympathetic applause from their fans after they were left stunned by Chelsea’s late surge.
For the first half-hour Arsenal 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 at fault when he allowed Abraham far too much time to control, turn and score the winner.