Chelsea launched a late comeback to deny Mikel Arteta his first win as Arsenal boss in his maiden home game in charge of the club this afternoon, with the Blues running out 2-1 winners at the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners were the better side for much of the match, particularly in the first half, and went into the break with a deserved 1-0 lead given to them by captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
However, a goalkeeping howler from Bernd Leno gifted them a route back into the match in the 83rd minute as Jorginho tapped home, before Tammy Abraham completed the turnaround four minutes later to wrap up a victory which flattered the visitors.
Nonetheless, it increases Chelsea’s lead over fifth place to four points, whereas Arsenal end 2019 with just one win in their final 15 matches across all competitions and having lost four consecutive home games for the first time in 60 years.
It was Arsenal who made the brighter start, with former Chelsea man David Luiz coming closest in the opening exchanges with one acrobatic effort which skewed wide and a long-range free kick which forced Kepa Arrizabalaga into his first save.
Chelsea did create a chance of their own after 11 minutes when Willian’s short free kick teed up Mason Mount, but his effort was gathered by Leno at the second attempt and proved to be a rare threatening foray forward for Frank Lampard’s side in the first half.
Arsenal broke the deadlock just two minutes later, with Mesut Ozil’s corner being flicked on by Calum Chambers for Aubameyang, who was sharper than the defenders to nod home from close range.
The Gunners had previously never lost a home Premier League game against Chelsea when scoring first, and there appeared to be little chance of that record changing throughout a first half in which Arteta’s side were comfortably the better team.
There was a downside for Arteta as Chambers picked up an injury which saw him limp off in the first half, although he would have been much happier than his counterpart Lampard, who made an unforced change of his own with more than 10 minutes until half time as Jorginho replaced Emerson Palmieri.
The manager’s frustration was mirrored on the pitch as Chelsea picked up three bookings in the space of four minutes, although they did improve after a change of formation and Kurt Zouma failed to take full advantage of a presentable opportunity towards the end of the half.
Chelsea’s improvement continued into the second half too, with N’Golo Kante dragging an early volley wide of the target, but both sides found clear chances difficult to come by as the game became more evenly balanced.
When one did arrive it was quickly snuffed out by Luiz, who made a crucial last-ditch block to deny Abraham after the Chelsea striker had taken too long to get his shot away inside the box.
It was in the final 15 minutes that the bulk of the action arrived, and Abraham had an even better opening when he rose highest inside the area to meet a corner, but his header lacked the power to truly trouble Leno in the Arsenal goal.
The hosts came inches away from killing the game off shortly afterwards when Joe Willock almost doubled their lead within minutes of his introduction, hammering a powerful strike narrowly wide of the target on the turn after Aubameyang had caught Kante in possession.
It proved to be a notable close call too as Chelsea began their late comeback in the 83rd minute with a significant helping hand from Leno.
The Arsenal keeper got nowhere near an attempted punch from a free kick to leave Jorginho, who was lucky to still be on the pitch after referee Craig Pawson opted not to show him a second yellow card earlier in the half, with a simple tap-in at the back post.