We went minute-by-minute as Chelsea welcomed Arsenal to Stamford Bridge.
Hello! And welcome to our minute-by-minute coverage of this afternoon’s London derby live from Stamford Bridge.
It’s the dawn of new eras at both Chelsea and Arsenal and today’s game presents the first chance for Maurizio Sarri and Unai Emery to face off against one another — in a competitive game, at least.
The pair battled it out in a pre-season friendly a few weeks ago at the Aviva Stadium, with the Gunner’s coming out on top via a penalty shootout in front of 46,000 spectators in Dublin.
Today’s match has a bit more riding on it. Emery got off to a losing start in his debut campaign in the Premier League with a 2-0 defeat to champions Man City a week ago.
Chelsea, on the other hand, are up and running with three points on the board already thanks to a comfortable 3-0 win over Huddersfield last weekend.
Both sides will be itching to add a bit of early-season momentum to their campaigns here today. Kick-off is just an hour away at 5.30pm.
Let’s get started with the team news…
So, today’s teams will line out as:
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso, Kante, Jorginho, Barkley, Willian, Morata, Pedro.
Subs: Hazard, Caballero, Moses, Kovacic, Giroud, Zappacosta, Christensen.
Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Papastathopoulos, Mustafi, Monreal, Guendouzi, Xhaka, Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Iwobi, Aubameyang.
Subs: Elneny, Ramsey, Lacazette, Torreira, Lichtsteiner, Leno, Welbeck.
With 45 minutes to go before kick-off, how do we see this one going? Let us know below!
So it’s as you were for Sarri, who names the exact same starting XI as the one which dispatched Huddersfield in West Yorkshire last weekend.
His Napoli pal Jorginho made the perfect debut by netting a goal from the penalty on his first competitive outing in blue (well, technically it was yellow), while Pedro and N’Golo Kante both made goalscoring starts to the new season as well.
Unai Emery, meanwhile, has opted for two changes to the side which was comfortably beaten by Pep Guardiola’s champions last weekend. The defeat was not too unexpected, but the meek manner of the 2-0 loss looked very similar to displays of old under Arsene Wenger.
Emery will want to put his own stamp on this bold new era at the Emirates. Today he brings Nacho Monreal and Alex Iwobi into the fray, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles out injured and Aaron Ramsey dropping to the bench.
The players have arrived at Stamford Bridge. As Chris Waddle famously said, ‘they’re all just headphones!’
Oh, and just in case you missed it… Harry Kane has finally scored a goal in August! What a day for the young man. His cool and composed strike wrapped up a 3-1 win for Tottenham against Fulham in today’s other London derby. So many London derbies.
1 - Harry Kane has scored a Premier League goal in August for the first time ever, in his 15th game in the month. Finally.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 18, 2018
KICK-OFF: We’re underway at Stamford Bridge!
A snappy start right from the tip-off from Arsenal sees the ball whiz into the path of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang right on the edge of the box. He sizes up a chance but can only toe-poke a weak effort, which produces a first save for Kepa in front of his own supporters at Stamford Bridge.
A lively and bright start to this game at both ends. Chelsea surge through the middle, allowing David Luiz the chance to have a go from range. The Brazilian has shown his pedigree from long-distances, but this time his effort balloons well and truly over the crossbar.
Close, very close indeed for Chelsea. A completely random run from Hector Bellerin attempting some sort of an offside trap allows Ross Barkley to peel away completely unmarked in dangerous territory — Jorginho spots the run and fires a quick ball over the top.
His pass, however, is just ever so slightly overhit and spills wide for a goal kick. Very erratic defending from Bellerin there, but brilliant vision from Jorginho to spot Barkley’s run at such short notice.
GOAL! CHELSEA 1-0 ARSENAL (PEDRO 9)
Chelsea take the lead! It’s a brilliant counter-attacking goal, a flowing move right up the length of the pitch building out from the back which culminates in Marcos Alonso crossing to Pedro who slips the ball past Petr Cech. An excellent finish and Chelsea lead 1-0.
It’s the perfect start for Sarri’s men who have assumed control of this game and are already pushing for a second immediately. There is an ease and flow when blue shirts are on the ball, with David Luiz and Antonio Ruediger instigating attacks passing out from the back. Very easy on the eye football.
Chance! It’s an absolute sitter from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang right in front of goal. Arsenal should be level, Matteo Guendouzi’s brilliant through ball setting his side on their way to an excellent attack.
Hector Bellerin selflessly crosses into the danger zone to Aubameyang, but no more than six yards out from goal the striker blasts a poor effort over the bar. Unai Emery can’t believe it.
GOAL! CHELSEA 2-0 ARSENAL (MORATA 20)
Chelsea double their lead! Right when it looked like the Gunners would draw level, the hosts punish Aubameyang’s sitter at the other end via Alvaro Morata. He bullies Mustafi off the ball with strength and determination, before twisting inside and slipping a left-footed effort underneath Cech. A superb finish full of composure and Chelsea are 2-0 ahead.
It’s all too easy for Chelsea at the moment.
Arsenal really are their own worst enemy at the minute, allowing far too much time and space for their opponents on the ball. A microcosm of the difference in quality so far could be seen in Matteo Guendouzi taking the ball out defence at his own pace, before seeing the ball nipped off his toe from behind by Morata out of no-where. Sarri’s side just seem a lot more switched on in all facets of play.
Close again! Oh dear, it’s just not Arsenal’s day at all. It’s another poor miss right in front of goal, this time from the right boot of Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Like Aubameyang’s chance earlier on the ball was put on a silver platter, however the Armenian could only sky a dreadful strike flying over the bar. Anywhere beneath the crossbar and it was a certain goal to halve the deficit. Poor Henrikh won’t want to see that one again.
GOAL! CHELSEA 2-1 ARSENAL (MKHITARYAN 37)
Arsenal do have the deficit and Henrikh Mkhitaryan succeeds in making up for his earlier miss with a fine finish right into Kepa’s bottom corner. The playmaker sizes up a chance from just outside the box and let’s fly with a beauty of an effort which sails hard and low into the back of the net. A fine finish, and it’s game on at the Bridge!
GOAL! CHELSEA 2-2 ARSENAL (IWOBI 40)
We’re all square, can you believe it! What a first half of what football this is proving to be, Alex Iwobi smashing Arsenal level with a thumping finish. It’s a brilliant move all-round, the Gunners racking up pass, after pass right up the length of the pitch before Henrikh Mkhitaryan provided the killer cross which Iwobi thumped past Kepa. It’s 2-2!
Two goals in the space of three minutes sees Arsenal resurrect from the dead to make this game a contest again. Morata’s goal looked to have put this game beyond reach, however a dramatic collapse from the hosts has seen their comfortable two goal lead turned to ash. Unai Emery has been insistent on his side passing out from the back, and Iwobi’s goal was a complete testament to that philosophy.
There will be two minutes of stoppage time to come at the end of the first half.
HALF-TIME: CHELSEA 2-2 ARSENAL
Well, what did we make of that? Breathless stuff altogether — Chelsea darting into a dominant 2-0 lead before the most unexpected of collapses right before the break. Sarri’s men eased and swaggered throughout the opening 35 minutes, before completely switching off.
Pedro and Alvaro Morato provided two excellent finishes, before Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi levelled in the space of three minutes. Arsenal looked so, well, Arsenal-y before exploding into life right when the chips were down. Will Unai Emery’s men build on their momentum, go for the juggular and snatch three all points?
Another 45 minutes of goal-scoring, heart-stopping, terrible-defending football coming up shortly! Yeeeessss.
SECOND-HALF: We’re back underway for the second half!
One change for Arsenal at the break sees Granit Xhaka replaced by Lucas Torreira. Xhaka didn’t cover himself in glory during the opening 45 minutes, picking up a yellow card along the way.
A much more mellow start to the second half, but sure weren’t we spoiled during the opening 45 minutes. It does feel like this game will still be a shoot-out, though. The awful defending (or lack thereof) during the first half makes you think it’ll be a matter of who can be clinical in the final third that decides this game.
Claims for a penalty now as N’Golo Kante sees his strike blocked down from close range inside the box. Replays show the ball did hit Papastathopoulos along the arm, but it didn’t appear to be in any way intentional. A strong start to the second period from Chelsea, who are in the midst of an intense search to regain the laid.
Shot! Ross Barkley lets fly from distance, but Petr Cech does well to dive early and palm the ball to safety. Chelsea squander the resulting corner, with the ball petering out for a goal kick harmlessly at the front post.
Chelsea make their first changes of the evening. Ross Barkley and Willian make way, with Eden Hazard and Mateo Kovacic coming on. The Real Madrid loanee is making his Premier League debut for the Blues.
It’s really end-to-end at the minute. Not end-to-end in any kind of constructive way though, both teams are just being really sloppy in possession and bombing forward in very random patterns of play. Both are gunning for all three points, and play is so open at the moment you’d feel a goal could come from anywhere.
Some brilliant individual play from Eden Hazard very nearly produces a goal. Off the bench, the Belgian leaves Hector Bellerin for dead with a sudden burst of acceleration down the left wing. Hazard skips to the byline elegantly before crossing, however his ball met no-one and simply ran across the penalty area and out the other end.
David Luiz fires a decent free-kick goal-bound. It rises high over the wall of Arsenal bodies but just doesn’t have enough whip or power to fool Petr Cech, who punches it clear protecting at his post. Luiz was trying to replicate that brilliant World Cup strike against Colombia, but to no avail.Source: Abner Escócio/YouTube
Chance! Aaron Ramsey almost slips the ball beyond Kepa and into the back of the net, but the Spanish goalkeeper produces an excellent low save from close range. The goalkeeper did spill the initial effort from the Welshman, before gathering quickly to deny Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang a certain tap-in.
N’Golo Kante has been immense all throughout this game and the World Cup winner almost heads in a late winner at the other end. He peels away from Papastathopoulos inside the box and latches onto Eden Hazard’s cross — however his header flew narrowly wide of the top corner he intended it for. Very nearly, but no cigar.
GOAL! CHELSEA 3-2 ARSENAL (ALONSO 81)
Chelsea regain the lead with nine minute left on the clock! It’s really lax defending from Arsenal at the back, with Marcos Alonso allowed to wander through untracked inside the box before snatching at Eden Hazard’s low cross at the front post. It’s a cool and powerful finish from the defender, who sweeps the ball into the bottom corner with a fine left-footed effort.
Eden Hazard has made such an impact to this game off the bench. He almost adds a fourth with yet another driving run which has Bellerin and Mustafi back-peddling and dragged out of position. The defenders will be glad to see the back of the winger after the final whistle, because he has been an absolute torment along the left wing.
It’s all Chelsea now as Olivier Giroud forces a fine save from Petr Cech. The French striker latched onto a cross delivered towards the front post, but could only see his effort athletically deflected wide for a corner by the goalkeeper. Sarri’s men are in total control and — but for another collapse like we witnessed in the first half — should be on their way to three points here.
Almost! Aaron Ramsey swoops a brilliant volley goal-bound, however his strike just dipped over the bar instead of underneath it. It would have been an emphatic late equaliser to cap off a dramatic and pulsating London derby, but to no avail.
There will be three minutes of stoppage time to come at the end of the second half.
Save! Chelsea counter with two-against one looking certain to add a fourth against the run of play as Arsenal throw everyone forward. Eden Hazard selflessly passes to Olivier Giroud, but his powerful low effort produces yet another excellent stop from Petr Cech. No fourth, but it should still be enough for Chelsea as the seconds tick away towards full-time.
FULL-TIME: CHELSEA 3-2 ARSENAL
Well, there we have it. A cracking London derby with five goals to boast. Arsenal made a game of it after going two goals down, but Eden Hazard ultimately proved the difference off the bench to set Marcos Alonso up for a late winner with nine minutes remaining. Thanks a million for joining us! You can read our full match report here.
The42 is on Instagram! Tap the button below on your phone to follow us!