Chelsea 3-2 Arsenal: 5 things we learned as Sarri’s side edge five-goal thriller

Maurizio Sarri's Chelsea side picked up their second win in as many games as they beat London rivals Arsenal 3-2.

Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley

Billed as the glamour tie of the second round of fixtures, this weekend’s London derby certainly lived up to its potential.

While goals from Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan may have cancelled out Pedro and Alvaro Morata’s early strikes, new Arsenal boss Unai Emery will rue a string of missed golden opportunities: both Mkhitaryan and record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fired over from close range.

A game that very few would have been able to predict, Marcos Alonso carried on his impressive attacking start to the season when, with 10 minutes to go, he finished from Eden Hazard’s low cross. 

While Sarri has now picked up two wins on the bounce to start his tenure in West London, Emery’s Gunners side have now slumped to two defeats and have plenty of questions over a number of their biggest stars.

Two sides who could very easily meet in the Europa League final later in the year, here are five things we learned at Stamford Bridge this weekend:

  1. 1 Kante and Jorginho are key

    REUTERS/Toby Melville

    While Granit Xhaka may have had another day to forget in the middle of the park, Chelsea's new midfield partnership appears to be going from strength to strength.

    Up against an Arsenal team that historically love to dominate the possession and dictate the pace of the game, both Kante and Jorginho were at the heart of everything good that Chelsea produced. 

    The Blues finished the day with 63% of the possession and completed nearly 300 more passes than Arsenal with their recently crowned World Cup winner now playing in a number eight role. 

    As usual, Kante fulfilled his defensive duties while constantly being a presence in the final third.

    With summer signing Jorginho sitting in a deeper role and dominating the game, the Italian didn't appear to break a sweat and his precise range of passing constantly found the gaps in Arsenal's defence. 

    If Chelsea are to land a top four finish this season, their new midfield partnership will be key.

  2. 2 Arsenal must drop Xhaka

    Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley

    As predicted, it was another afternoon that Granit Xhaka cemented his position as Arsenal's midfield weak link. 

    Picking up 10 yellow cards last season, the second most in the Premier League, the Swiss international grabbed his customary booking before being dragged off at half-time.

    Up against two elite level midfielders in N'Golo Kante and Jorginho, Xhaka once again looked completely out of his depth. 

    Offering minimal protection to an Arsenal defence who were desperately looking for some help, the Blues breezed past him with every attack and, after being heavily criticised during their 2-0 loss to Manchester City last weekend, it seems that Unai Emery’s patience might just have run out. 

    With £26.5 million summer signing Lucas Torreira replacing him and impressing once again, Gunners fans must be hoping that is the last they see of their number 34.

  3. 3 Defensive issues need sorting for both sides

    Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley

    Although it was a great game for the neutrals — a combined 39 shots coming during the course of the game — the men in the dugouts will be far from impressed with what they saw from their defences. 

    The fact that the score was 2-2 at half-time should tell you everything you need to know about both sides afternoon of defending.

    With their sides still adapting to new formations and new tactics, both Sarri and Emery know that their defensive issues must be addressed sooner rather than later. 

    While Arsenal drastically struggled to handle Chelsea's front three, especially down the right-hand side, the Blues also handed their visitors a string of glorious opportunities. 

    Sarri will know if Arsenal were more clinical they could have left empty-handed.

  4. 4 Alonso remains a threat going forward

    REUTERS/Toby Melville

    While there were rightfully questions over Marcos Alonso's ability to play as an out-and-out left back in Sarri's new-look 4-3-3 formation, fans around Stamford Bridge will hardly have been surprised by his start to the new campaign.

    Winning the penalty and hitting the bar with a stunning volley in their 3-0 win over Huddersfield last weekend, the former Bolton man continued to show what a threat he is on Saturday. 

    Finding an abundance of space behind Hector Bellerin, Alonso produced an assist for Pedro after just 10 minutes and also found himself in the right place to grab Chelsea's winner.

    With Emerson breathing down his neck for the spot on the left-hand side of Chelsea's defence, the Spaniard will be boosted by the fact that he appears to be an important part of the Blues' attacking style.

  5. 5 Ozil's slump continues

    REUTERS/Toby Melville

    With so many issues surrounding his retirement from international football following Germany's embarrassing World Cup exit, Mesut Ozil would have been desperate for an impressive start to the season.

    However, after failing to make any kind of impact against City in their Premier League opener, the 29-year-old once again asked very little questions and was taken off after just 65 minutes.

    Although the German signed a new £350,000 per week deal last January, Emery has made it clear Ozil must work harder for the team and his decision to drag him off shows the German does not have a guaranteed place in his side. 

    Playing as almost a second striker, the former Real Madrid man was a spectator for large spells of the game. Arsenal will certainly demand a lot more.

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