Chelsea 3-2 Arsenal: Late Marcos Alonso goal seals breathless London derby as Unai Emery suffers two defeats in two matches
PUBLISHED: 19:24 18 August 2018 | UPDATED: 19:24 18 August 2018
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Chelsea beat Arsenal 3-2 in a breathless London derby after an 80th minute winner from Marcos Alonso sealed the victory for Maurizio Sarri's Blues as Unai Emery suffered his second league defeat in two matches.
Goals from Pedro on nine minutes and Alvaro Morata on 20 minutes put Maurizio Sarri’s Blues’ 2-0 ahead before Unai Emery’s side staged a four minute comeback towards the end of a breathless first half.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan on 37 minutes and Alex Iwobi four minutes later saw the Gunners head into the break level.
Emery opted for youngster Matteo Guendouzi to partner Granit Xhaka as the two defensive midfielders in West London.
Nacho Monreal made a welcome return to the side while, as expected, Petr Cech started at his old stamping ground.
What was less expected was to see Alex Iwobi in the starting line-up, but the Nigerian international has impressed the Spainard this summer, culminating in a new long term contract.
New £26 million signing from Sampdoria, Lucas Torreira, was again on the bench, along with Bernd Leno.
Despite the pre-match talk Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang started up top, while Iwobi slotted into the left of an attacking trident with Mesut Ozil positioned centrally with Henkrikh Mkhitaryan on the right.
Chelsea started brightly with early long range shots from David Luiz and Pedro before they went ahead on nine minutes through Pedro.
Marcos Alonso powered down the left flank before squaring to the 31-year-old former Barcelona attacker who steered the ball home to beat Cech.
Arsenal nearly hit back in the 16th minute when Aubameyang’s near post shot was blocked by record signing Kepa Arrizabalaga after Shkoddran played in Aubameyang.
Moments later Mustafi played in Bellerin down the right channel. The pacy right-back crossed for the former Borussia Dortmund striker who was well-placed centrally.
However, in what could have been a pivotal moment in the game – but turned out to be a mere footnote in an action-packed match - Aubameyang lifted his shoot over Kepa’s bar.
It was still to prove crucial, as £60 million forward Morata broke away before beating Mustafi as he wrong-footed Cech to make it 2-0 to the Blues on 20 minutes.
Questions must be asked of Emery opting for Guendouzi – who it has to be said is full of promise and will be an excellent player if he keeps progressing – in the heart of battle at a raucous Stamford Bridge. Certainly while Torreira sat on the bench.
Just after the half hour the visitors worked the ball into the box only for Mkhitaryan to fire over the bar when he should have scored. It was another chance squandered but the Armenian made amends eight minutes before the interval.
Iwobi in space on the left crossed for the former Dortmund attacker who guided the ball into the net to make it 2-1 following good work by Nacho Monreal earlier in the move after he won possession.
The favour was returned four minutes later as Emery’s side equalised after Mkhitaryan fed the 22-year-old who slotted home in the middle - to send the 3,000 travelling fans massed in the away end at Stamford Bridge delirious.
The Gunners could have been ahead with seconds to go of a hectic first 45 minutes after the impressive Iwobi played the ball to Aubameyang, who fired narrowly wide.
As referee Martin Atkinson blew for half-time a cheer went up from the Arsenal fans to acknowledge the two goal comeback.
Although given the nature of the opening half which was high on attacking intent but low on defensive composure from both sides, it could just as easily have been approval at a break in the proceedings simply to allow everyone to draw breath.
What would also have met with approval was Torreira replacing the ineffective Xhaka during the break.
The second half started in the same vein with Ross Barkley driving into the box before firing across Cech who did well to push the ball wide for a corner which came to nothing.
Eden Hazard replaced the former Toffees midfielder for his first competitive match since his summer exploits in the World Cup in Russia with third-placed Belgium.
With 18 minutes to go shook off some of his rustiness forcing Cech to beat away a free-kick.
Alexandre Lacazette replaced Iwobi, with the latter earning his ovation after a good performance.
But with ten minutes remaining Alonso, the 27-year-old former Real Madrid and Bolton defender slotted home to make it 3-2 and clinch the three points after a breathless derby.
Their new head coach Sarri will be delighted with the result after making it two wins in his opening two matches.
For his Arsenal counterpart Emery, however, it remains played two: lost two.
With another London derby against West Ham next Saturday at the Emriates the former PSG simply cannot afford to make it three league defeats this month.