Chelsea produced a stunning late comeback to beat Arsenal 2-1 in the Premier League on Sunday, consigning newly-appointed Gunners coach Mikel Arteta to defeat on his home debut as coach of the north London side.
Arteta, taking charge of his first home game since succeeding sacked Unai Emery, left Arsenal’s record signing Pepe on the bench again in favour of Reiss Nelson.
Arsenal, 12th, started with great intensity, forcing Frank Lampard’s tired-looking Chelsea back, until Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gave the hosts the lead in the 13th minute with an acrobatic header.
After Aubameyang’s opener, Alexandre Lacazette came close to adding a second but N’Golo Kante made a vital interception in front of goal.
Lampard tactically brought on Jorginho after 34 minutes and changed from a 3-4-3 formation to 4-3-3, as he did on Boxing Day against Southampton, and it helped the visitors find a foothold at a fired-up Emirates Stadium.
The hosts showed more spark after Jorginho’s introduction, and his presence helped Chelsea turn the game around after the break.
Abraham saw one effort blocked and another saved by Leno in the second half, while Arsenal substitute Joe Willock fired narrowly wide.
Fourth-place Chelsea, who lost five of their previous seven league games, had the better of the second half, and suddenly, Bernd Leno’s blunder handed Chelsea a lifeline when Jorginho — who should have been sent off earlier — equalized in the 83rd minute.
Arsenal, who lost defender Calum Chambers to injury in the first half, looked shaky in defense late on, and substitute Shkodran Mustafi was constantly under pressure.
Four minutes later, Abraham and Willian broke at lightning pace and combined for the English striker — who turned Mustafi far too easily in the area — to net the second against a shell-shocked Arsenal, Abraham’s 12th league goal of the campaign leaving Arteta still hunting for his first win as Arsenal manager.
“It was very cruel the way we lost it, in the first half we saw a lot of positives and saw what we are trying to implement,” Arteta said.
“But the way we conceded was disappointing. It was clear why it was disappointing, I don’t need to say any more.”
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Lampard, for his part, said after the match that he told his players in no uncertain terms at the half that they needed to turn things around.
“From my point of view you can accept a miss-pass but you can’t accept lethargy in a London derby. The players were told that and they delivered. The second half was nothing to do with tactics it was all to do with spirit and desire,” Lampard said.
Up next for Arsenal is Manchester United on New Year’s Day at home, while Chelsea will be on the road against Brighton on the same matchday.