Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea
Since his Premier League debut in February last year, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored more goals in the competition (45) than any other player – one more than both Jamie Vardy and Mohamed Salah (44).
One wonders how far adrift Arsenal would be with Sbobet Premier League betting odds without the Gabon international’s goals.
That new boss Mikel Arteta is able to call upon the regular marksman will surely make his task to restore Arsenal to a title-challenging team that bit easier.
However, if ever a game summed up the wider difficulties he has inherited, this was it.
This clash in the capital was feisty in places and even saw referee Craig Pawson brandish nine yellow cards.
But, despite showing signs of spirit and improvement, all the talk will be about the way Arsenal’s deficiencies were brutally exposed yet again.
Highlights of the game
Thirteen minutes in and, if Chelsea are superstitious, they were cursing falling behind.
It proved to be one of the few Premier League highlights in the opening half as Mesut Ozil delivered a corner from the left, Calum Chambers flicked the ball on and there was Aubameyang to send a flying header beyond Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Without creating a great deal, the hosts were the better side, even after the blow – just seven minutes after the opening goal – of losing Chambers with what appeared to be a twisted knee.
The next substitution didn’t appear to be prompted by an injury but a sign that Chelsea were struggling in the middle of the park as Frank Lampard switched things around by replacing left-wing back Emerson with central midfielder Jorginho – a change that was to prove pivotal.
Going into the closing stages, Chelsea had not threatened, other than when young substitute Tariq Lamptey found Tabby Abraham whose shot was expertly blocked by former Chelsea man David Luiz (his last game for Chelsea was against Arsenal in last season’s Europa League Final).
And they were lucky to still have 11 players on the park when Jorginho escaped a second yellow card for a cynical foul on Lucas Torreira.
Yet eight minutes from time, the Italian levelled up matters after the largely untested Bernd Leno completely missed a Mason Mount in-swinging free-kick which allowed Jorginho – a much more confident player in west London this term – the simplest of tap-ins.
Then with Arsenal looking to restore the lead, Antonio Rudiger made a crucial headed clearance, Willian – hero of their win in north London seven days ago – broke clear and played two precise one-twos with Abraham for the young Englishman to drill the ball past Leno.
Cue ecstasy for Chelsea, anguish for Arsenal as they lost four consecutive home fixtures in all competitions for the first time in 60 years.
It meant the Gunners were also slipping to a third successive top-flight home defeat for the first time since the spring of 1977.
Arsenal will start 2020 11 points behind fourth-placed Chelsea and without a Premier League home win since October 6.
Arteta’s task has been well and truly laid bare.
This was the first time in 68 home Premier League games that Arsenal have lost when leading at the break.
This was also the first time the Gunners have lost a Premier League home game against Chelsea when they have scored first (won 11, drawn four).
This was Arsenal’s 26th goal of the league season – 13 have been scored by Aubameyang.
This was Chelsea’s second victory in their past eight matches at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal have conceded at least twice at the Emirates in their past five fixtures in league and cup. They last did so in five games in December 1965.
Leno has made seven errors directly leading to an opposition goal in the Premier League since the beginning of last season, the most of any player.
Chelsea have kept just two clean sheets in their 11 last league fixtures.
The Blues are one of two Premier League teams yet to register an away draw this term, the other being Newcastle.
Only champions Manchester City (27) have scored more away goals than Chelsea’s tally of 24.
This was the first of three successive home matches for Arsenal. Manchester United are the visitors to the Emirates Stadium on New Year’s night before Leeds United come to town in the third round of the FA Cup on January 6.
Chelsea are at Brighton on New Year’s Day and then host Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup four days later.
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