FT: Arsenal 3 – Chelsea 1
Arsenal did it. They won a match in the Premier League. And they didn’t just beat Chelsea, they beat them convincingly. The 3-1 scoreline flatters the Blues, and it could have been even more flattering had Bernd Leno not stopped Jorginho’s penalty. Arsenal could have had at least two more. Chelsea scored on their only non-penalty kick shot on goal. It was a thorough victory for the good guys.
I want to get this one up quickly so y’all can express your joy in the comments, so I’m going with bullet points.
Gabriel Martinelli is built different. His three successful tackles were tied most of anybody on the pitch. His movement and energy lifts the entire team, and he’s got the skill to go along with it. He was a bit unlucky that his best chance of the match got semi-deflected. The confidence to attempt the bicycle kick is excellent. He should be starting every match.
Emile Smith Rowe was very good in his first (?!) Premier League start ever. He probably could have done better with a golden chance in the first half, and there are a few little things to clean up, but like Martinelli, he’s a difference-maker. He goes into that all-important middle of the attacking third and makes things happen. Those (very) small things to improve on shouldn’t keep him out of the side. He definitely earned another PL start. And hopefully he, Martinelli, Pepe, and whoever else can keep Willian far away from the side.
Bukayo Saka rounds out the trio of young players playing great games. His performance wasn’t as surprising because he’s done it before, but he had a very good game. He’s not a star of the future. He’s a star now.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Arsenal played their best game of the season with Willian out of the lineup. I’m probably more critical of him than I should be. There probably are some good things he’s doing on the pitch and in training that I don’t see. He probably still has some magic left in his boots as a substitute, but he doesn’t have the legs to play 90 minutes at the Premier League level. Without him on the pitch, Arsenal were able to press more effectively and higher up. The results speak for themselves.
Kieran Tierney had a great game, which is reassuring after a run of mediocre to poor performances. He was up and down the left flank all match and earned the penalty kick for Arsenal.
Solid match from Hector Bellerin. A couple instances of very good marking and composure. Good on-ball play. He’s clearly the best right back at the club. Anyone who says otherwise is flat-out wrong.
Rob Holding and Pablo Mari played really well. Holding was particularly good in the air, not necessarily winning the duels, but doing enough by being there to put his mark off. It’s a small thing, but I really liked the emotion that I saw from Mari after the match — he was fired up and really happy. We’ll see more of the pair with Gabriel having to isolate from having a close-contact with a COVID-positive.
Granit Xhaka had a solid game, too. It was his pass that sprung Kieran Tierney for the penalty kick, and he scored that screamer of a free kick. He’s scored 3 of the 20 free kicks he’s taken for Arsenal. Sure seems to me like David Luiz should never take another one.
- Shoutout to Bernd Leno for saving the penalty kick.
- Shoutout to Alexandre Lacazette for converting his.
It is a popular refrain among managers attempting to arrest a decline to cite the importance of hard work, but you suspect Arteta means it more than most given his taskmaster style and the lack of application that epitomised.