Chelsea missed the opportunity to strengthen their place in the top four as Emile Smith Rowe’s second Premier League goal in as many games gave Arsenal victory.
The game’s only goal came in the first half courtesy of a terrible mistake by Jorginho. The midfielder misjudged a pass back that was in danger of trickling over the line before Kepa Arrizabalaga managed to claw the ball away but only to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who teed up Smith Rowe to slot in.
Chelsea dominated from then on as Mason Mount twice went close, seeing a volley inside the box blocked before the England international drew a good save out of Bernd Leno.
Christian Pulisic thought he had equalised on the hour but his strike was ruled out by the video assistant referee for offside, while substitute Olivier Giroud should have done better but swung wildly at his shot after a mistake by Mohamed Elneny.
The hosts then twice went agonisingly close to rescuing a point in stoppage time as Leno pushed Kurt Zouma’s header onto the bar before Giroud’s volley also bounced back off the woodwork, but Arsenal held on to take the three points.
The victory also meant the Gunners completed the double over the Blues for the first time in 17 years to boost their own hopes of ensuring they are playing European football next season.
Chelsea remain fourth on 64 points, six ahead of West Ham and seven ahead of Liverpool, who have two games in hand on Thomas Tuchel’s side.
Arsenal, meanwhile, are eighth and just one point behind Tottenham in seventh, although have played a game more.
Off day for Chelsea gives hope to chasing pack
Chelsea have been hugely impressive under Tuchel and, while the immediate goal is getting the points required to cement a top-four finish this season, the signs are good that they should be title challengers next term.
The two-legged win against Real Madrid in the semi-final of the Champions League highlighted how difficult a side they are to beat but this game also showed that they can sometimes be their own worst enemy.
Jorginho’s mistakes, when he attempted a blind pass back to Kepa, was the eighth time the Blues have made errors leading to opposition goals in the Premier League this season, a number surpassed only by Liverpool (nine) and Chelsea’s most in a single league campaign since 2015-16.
Despite that Chelsea had plenty of opportunities to get a result but were wasteful in front of goal. Kai Havertz should have scored before Smith Rowe’s opener but blazed over when one-on-one while Giroud also had a good chance to equalise in the second half.
Chelsea may have had half a mind on Saturday’s FA Cup final against Leicester and they are still in a great position to finish in the top four but the defeat – only their third under Tuchel – will give hope to the chasing pack.
Liverpool’s next two games are away to Manchester United and relegated West Brom and if they are to win those they would only be a point behind Chelsea with two games remaining.
A welcome win, but still work to do for Arsenal
A win at a strong Chelsea side is certainly a very good result and one that keeps alive Arsenal’s hopes of avoiding missing out on European football for the first time in 27 seasons.
The performance was for large periods a disappointing one as, bar Smith Rowe’s tap-in following Jorginho’s mistake, they struggled to create anything of note as they spent the majority of the game camped in their own half.
But to their credit they were organised in defence, particularly when they came under pressure late on and while they rode their luck at times it was another positive result as the Gunners try to put behind them the disappointment of failing to reach the Europa League final.
Arsenal still look a long way off a side that will challenge for the top four again anytime soon but it is now three Premier League wins in a row and, with games against Crystal Palace and Brighton remaining, they have the opportunity to finish an underwhelming season in a positive fashion.
Double delight for Arsenal – the stats
- Arsenal completed their first Premier League double over Chelsea since the 2003-04 season, while this was their first league win at Stamford Bridge since October 2011, ending an eight-game winless run there (D2 L6).
- Arsenal have won three consecutive away Premier League matches without conceding for the first time since May 2013 under Arsene Wenger.
- Arsenal have had a different player aged younger than 21 score in each of their last three Premier League matches against Chelsea – Gabriel Martinelli in January 2020, Bukayo Saka in December 2020 and Emile Smith Rowe tonight.
- Billy Gilmour has started each of Chelsea’s last three Premier League games – the 19-year-old is the first Scottish teenager to start three consecutive top-flight matches since Grant Hanley for Blackburn Rovers, in a run ending on New Year’s Day 2011.
- Chelsea have conceded 26 goals in 19 Premier League games when Antonio Rudiger hasn’t started this season, compared to just seven conceded in the 17 games when the German has started.
- Chelsea’s Mason Mount created more chances than any other player (four), taking his tally for the season to 82; only Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes has created more in the Premier League this season (92).
Chelsea’s focus switches to the FA Cup final as they face Leicester at Wembley on Saturday, 15 May (17:15 BST), while Arsenal are next in action on Wednesday, 19 May (19:00 BST) when they travel to Crystal Palace in the Premier League.