CHELSEA 2-4 ARSENAL: Chelsea and Arsenal shared four goals in a hectic first half, but the Gunners picked up a surprise win with Eddie Nketiah on target twice.
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Nketiah capitalized on a defensive error to put the visitors ahead, reopening the debate about his future at Arsenal in the process. Nevertheless, Timo Werner he delivered a quick equalizer, albeit via a big deflection, after a loose pass from the Gunners forward gave the Blues possession.
However, the hosts were not level for so long, with Emile Smith Rowe restoring Arsenal’s lead with a clever finish that caught Edouard Mendy on Chelsea’s goal. Still, not to be outdone, Chelsea made it 2-2 in minutes through César Azpilicueta.
The upside-down game continued down the same path after the break, with Nketiah putting his team ahead for the third time after some sloppy defending by Chelsea. The Gunners had chances to extend the lead, with some decisions in the final third letting them down, but Bukayo Saka eventually secured the points from the penalty spot to keep Arsenal in the mix for fourth place.
Nketiah seizes his opportunity
With Alexandre Lacazette not in a position to start after a recent bout of Covid, Eddie Nketiah was given another chance in attack. The forward’s future is still up in the airunder contract until the summer, but the only thing he can do is take advantage of the opportunities when they present themselves.
Even when given a chance to impress in the league this term, Nketiah has rarely been in the races. However, when Andreas Christensen dropped a short pass with the score level, he never seemed to miss.
Before kick-off, pundit Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink questioned whether the striker does enough outside the box, and there were times when it seemed like he was trying to refute that particular argument. Still, it’s hard to fault his persistence, and many would have given up the half-chance that presented itself early in the second period.
At this stage of the season, a cool head and big moments are key. In West London, Nketiah emerged victorious not once, but twice.
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Arsenal’s defensive change
It’s no secret that Arsenal they have suffered the loss of Kieran Tierney and, before him, Takehiro Tomiyasu. First-choice full-backs played their part in some of Arsenal’s best performances, and their substitutes, through no fault of their own, are simply not up to par.
Mikel Arteta has taken several different approaches in an effort to find a solution. Against chelseahe attempted to mirror his opponents by starting with three centre-backs, bringing in Rob Holding for Cedric.
However, within the first 15 minutes, they had become four again with Ben White and Nuno Tavares as unbalanced full-backs. It seemed to work though, especially when the retired Mohamed Elneny was able to drop back and provide support to the central defenders, and whether it was a pre-planned decision or an adaptation, Arteta showed his flexibility.
Is Lukaku’s time up?
When Romelu Lukaku starred against Arsenal in the reverse fixture, it looked like he couldn’t go wrong in a Chelsea shirt. Of course, that hasn’t been the case, and it seemed the family opposition might help the Belgian remember happier times.
There was an early moment when the record signing slipped the ball into the right inside channel before rolling past Granit Xhaka only to screw his shot in front of goal. He may not have gone as planned, but there are games this season where he wouldn’t even have shot.
That didn’t seem to be enough though, as Lukaku only lasted an hour before giving way to Kai Havertz. There were reports of boos from the crowd, and it will be a real ask for him to shake off additional frustrations if he gets another chance early on.
Chelsea miss Rudiger
If Antonio Rudiger leaves Chelsea in the summer, he will be greatly missed. The back three of César Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen and Malang Sarr did not look particularly convincing as Arsenal created a lot even when they did not seize every opportunity.
Christensen was withdrawn at the break, but Thiago Silva’s replacement hardly promises long-term security at the age of 37, regardless of his quality. Arsenal’s third goal was a prime example of Chelsea’s defensive problems, with a lack of communication and coordination allowing Nketiah to slip through.
Chelsea have conceded more goals in their last three league games than in their first 14. By that evidence, something will have to change in a big way over the summer.
the top four
If Arsenal don’t finish in the top four, those three losses against crystal Palace, Brighton Y Southampton it will be painful However, they like to do things the hard way, and he proved that with his win at Chelsea in desperate circumstances.
However, the derby laid bare Arsenal’s thin squad. Tavares would not normally be called up to start this type of game, while Mohamed Elneny, who will start a club game for the first time in 2022, would not be called up to start any league outings with everyone fit.
Arsenal’s lack of depth has threatened to derail an impressive season, with some departures in January further thinning the squad. The challenge now is for those who have been playing on the edge for so long to find another gear in recent weeks.