Marcos Alonso’s late strike settled a chaotic Premier League classic in Chelsea’s favour after Arsenal fought back from two goals down and threatened to earn a point at Stamford Bridge. But, despite the victory, coach Maurizio Sarri said he did not believe his players were ready to challenge for Manchester City’s title. Sarri’s side had built a two-goal advantage inside the first 20 minutes as Pedro turned in Alonso’s cross and Alvaro Morata added another seconds after Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang shot over from close range.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan wasted a similar opportunity before pulling one back with a low shot that Chelsea’s new £71m keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga should have saved, before Alex Iwobi put the Gunners on level terms. Aubameyang and Iwobi missed further chances before half-time and Chelsea controlled the second half, Alonso sweeping in substitute Eden Hazard’s cross nine minutes from time to make it successive wins for Sarri and two defeats for new Arsenal manager Unai Emery. This was a heavyweight Premier League meeting for newcomers Sarri and Emery – and they were provided with plenty of food for thought after an engrossing 90 minutes.
Emery is perpetual motion in his technical area, pacing constantly from almost the first minute, a blur of gesticulations and dramatic effect with cajoling and encouragement throughout. The Spaniard is still trying to put his imprint on this Arsenal team after the end of Arsene Wenger’s 22-year reign, and he is very obviously a hands-on figure. It is also clear from the manner in which Arsenal got back into the game – even though they ended defeated – that his new players are fighting for their manager. His style of a high defensive line and playing out from the back is a work in progress but both Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi are alarmingly short of pace for such an approach and this needs to be addressed.