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Arsenal undone by same old mistakes as Chelsea inflict first defeat on Mikel Arteta

Mikel Arteta tasted defeat for the first time (Picture: Getty)
Mikel Arteta’s seen this play before.

The Spaniard tasted his fair share of gut-wrenching defeats during his playing days at the Emirates, when he was part of an Arsenal side that had an uncanny knack of finding new ways to implode against their closest rivals. But for the first time since 2016 Arteta had that sinking feeling again as his new side undid all their good work in the dying minutes to deny him a first win as Gunners boss against Chelsea.

The loss, against a top four competitor and a London rival, will hurt but it’s the nature of the defeat which will really sting. Arsenal had given themselves a deserved lead in the first half when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang headed in from Calum Chambers’ flick-on in the 13th minute. Aside from the goal and the greater purpose Arsenal showed in possession, it was their work-rate and shape when without the ball that would have really pleased Arteta.

Frank Lampard had decided to ..

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Mikel Arteta tasted defeat for the first time (Picture: Getty)

Mikel Arteta’s seen this play before.

The Spaniard tasted his fair share of gut-wrenching defeats during his playing days at the Emirates, when he was part of an Arsenal side that had an uncanny knack of finding new ways to implode against their closest rivals. But for the first time since 2016 Arteta had that sinking feeling again as his new side undid all their good work in the dying minutes to deny him a first win as Gunners boss against Chelsea.

The loss, against a top four competitor and a London rival, will hurt but it’s the nature of the defeat which will really sting. Arsenal had given themselves a deserved lead in the first half when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang headed in from Calum Chambers’ flick-on in the 13th minute. Aside from the goal and the greater purpose Arsenal showed in possession, it was their work-rate and shape when without the ball that would have really pleased Arteta.


Frank Lampard had decided to stick with a 3-4-3 system that worked so effectively against Tottenham but the tactics were scrapped after a woeful opening half-an-hour. The opener gave Arsenal streams of confidence and they threatened a second when Aubameyang and Ozil put together a wonderful attack which required N’Golo Kante to deny Alexandre Lacazette from doubling the home side’s lead.

Aubameyang headed in after 13 minutes
Aubameyang headed in after 13 minutes (Picture: Getty)

For 84 minutes Arteta would have been delighted with his side’s display. The Spaniard’s not been afforded the time on the training ground to methodically run his new squad through his tactical philosophy but he has had the opportunity to work on their attitude and the early signs are that he’s making progress. Other than Aubameyang’s opener, there was another moment in the first half that had Arsenal fans leaping to their feet with clenched fists and delighted smiles. Ordinarily, such scenes would be reserved for a mercurial touch from Mesut Ozil or a sweeping pass from Matteo Guendouzi. Instead, it was a thumping clearance in stoppage time from David Luiz that had locals on their feet.

It was symptomatic of Arsenal’s display and out-of-keeping with what supporters have come to expect from Arsenal. It gave fans a glimpse of what Arteta will eventually bring to his new side, once he’s had time to settle and implement his ideas over a longer period.

Jorginho capitalised on Leno's mistake
Jorginho capitalised on Leno’s mistake (Picture: Getty)

But, just as Arsenal fans were dreaming of the future, the past came back with a vengeance. With six minutes remaining on the clock, Mason Mount whipped in a routine free-kick into the box which Bernd Leno looked destined to claim with ease but the German miscalculated the flight of the ball and allowed Jorginho to tap-in a simple equaliser. The Italian managed to avoid a second yellow when he pulled back Guendouzi shortly before his goal, which made the equaliser all the sweeter for the 3,000-strong travelling support.

The goal was Lampard’s reward for discarding with the back three after half-an-hour, when he introduced the former Napoli man for Emerson. The move gave Chelsea far greater control of possession and they begun to carve out openings, even if Arsenal were defending resolutely.

An individual error had cost Arteta his first win in charge but the blame spread throughout the rest of the team when Chelsea found their equaliser in injury time. Arteta played under Arsene Wenger, in a team that was so regularly criticised for its lack of experience and tactical immaturity. It appears little has changed. Arsenal flooded forward in search of a winner but they were caught sleeping at the back. Following a crucial header from Antonio Rudiger, Willian broke a blistering speed and screwed a cross back to Abraham. The forward sent Shkodran Mustafi the wrong way with a feinted turn before smashing past Leno at close range.

Abraham struck in the dying minutes
Abraham struck in the dying minutes (Picture: Getty)

It was a sickening blow for Arteta but further proof of the magnitude of the job he faces at the Emirates. These mistakes have been repeated over a number of years and cannot be eradicated overnight. While Arteta can work on the mentality of the squad, he’s inherited a group of players that failed under the last two managers and it’s unrealistic to expect different res

For Lampard, it’s another feather in the cap. Chelsea’s recent slump has allowed the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham to revive the fight for the top four and a win for Arsenal today would have put the Gunners to within five points of the Blues. The win means Arsenal’s chance of the top four are all but over and affords Chelsea to look above, rather than below, once more.

Final score: Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea
Man of the Match: Tammy Abraham

MORE: Jorginho responds to avoiding red card in Chelsea’s win against Arsenal


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