No goals again … Arteta’s Arsenal slump to Chelsea defeat
The Gunners are 19th after two games
22 August, 2021 — By Tom Foot at the Emirates
FA Premier League
CHELSEA 2 (Lukaku 15, James 35)
HOW low can they go?
That’s what Arsenal fans are wondering after the second goalless defeat of the season left the club 19th.
This side doesn’t even look like scoring and you wonder if they will climb out of the relegation zone before Mikel Arteta is sacked.
You also wonder whether a new manager, or the return of any of sidelined players, will make any difference?
The speed of Arsenal’s descent from play-making Champions League stalwarts has been breathtaking.
Who is going to lead the fightback? Nicholas Pepe? Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang? Pablo Mari?
The Gunners can no longer be classed as a passing team, relying on telegraphed one-twos to advance up the pitch. Often, a chipped cross is nodded away by bigger and better central defenders.
Granit Xhaka is the Arsenal captain.
That all said, there was a proper spine-tingling atmosphere at kick-off that would quicken the pulse of even the most die-hard Arsenal sceptic.
It felt almost unreal to be back in a full stadium with a lot of pent-up emotion vented, collectively, for the first time since the pandemic hit.
The sun was out at 4.30pm, and when Emile Smith Rowe drove past Marcus Alonso early on there was a genuine sense that just maybe the Gunners might turn the tables on the form guide.
But then new signing Romelu Lukaku tapped-in from a Reece James pass on 15 minutes.
The goal was particularly deflating as the Gunners back four was split with such basic passing, right back Kieran Tierney way out of position.
The second came in almost identical circumstances, although this time James fired past Bernd Leno instead of centering the ball. Again Tierney looked all at sea. Mari looked out of his depth throughout.
Bukayo Saka had a shout for a penalty, but VAR said no.
By half time, the sunshine and the early optimism had disappeared. The chanting had been replaced by hostile shouting. Gunners fans looked semi-traumatised as torrential rain battered the front rows.
The signs were all ominous and it didn’t feel like Chelsea had got into second gear.
The second half began at the same pace, with Chelsea soaking up any rare moments of pressure and Arsenal failing to take any chances that came their way.
Holding headed wide on 60 minutes, before Aubameyang came on for Saka. The joint Premier League’s top scorer in 2019 just looks like he can’t be bothered anymore.
Smith Rowe showed his potential with a lovely piece of control in the box, followed by a snap shot.
Lukaku had a point blank header brilliantly pushed onto the bar from Bernd Leno.
Chelsea, for all this hot air coming from their nasty travelling fans, did not even play that well.
Kante coming on as sub showed the gulf between these two clubs, which for the best part of two decades shared a fairly-equal footing.
Next stop Manchester City.
ARSENAL: Leno, Tierney (Tavares 66), Saka (Aubameyang 60), Smith Rowe, Holding, Soares, Pepe, Mari, Xhaka, Lokonga, Martinelli (Balogun).
SUBS NOT USED: Ramsdale, Elneny, Maitland-Niles, Chambers, Kolasanic
CHELSEA: Mendy, Rudiger, Alonso, Christensen, Jorginho, Kovacic (Kante 70), Lukaku, Mount, James, Azipilicueta, Havertz (Werner 88).
SUBS NOT USED: Arrizabalaga, Silva, Chalobah, Zouma, Hudson-Odoi, Chilwell, Ziyech.