Opening up the 2021/22 Premier League campaign with a thumping 3-0 win against Crystal Palace, Chelsea once again picked up London bragging rights on Sunday afternoon when they made the trip to the Emirates.
Building off of their eye-catching start and putting in a largely dominant display away at a struggling Arsenal, Thomas Tuchel’s high-flying squad managed to make it back-to-back victories as they underlined their title credentials.
Watching the returning Romelu Lukaku open his account and Reece James almost see off Sunday’s derby in the opening 45 minutes, we have taken a look at the major talking points as Chelsea only put more pressure on Mikel Arteta’s shoulders.
Lukaku marks his return in style
Stealing most of the headlines last week as it was announced that Romelu Lukaku had completed a record-breaking return to Stamford Bridge, there is no doubt that the now-former Inter Milan marksman showed why he is regarded to be one of Europe’s elite number nines.
Taking just 14 minutes to reopen his Blues account as he tapped home Reece James’ ball into an empty Arsenal net, the 28-year-old was a constant nightmare to the Gunners’ defence, and both Pablo Mari and Rob Holding couldn’t lay a glove on him.
Involved in 35 goals in his 36 appearances at the San Siro last season, Lukaku was more than deserving of his Man of the Match award and almost got himself a second with 15 minutes left on the clock.
Given far too much space in the six-yard box and thundering his bullet header goal-bound, the Belgian talisman was only denied as an under-pressure Bernd Leno tipped his effort onto the bar from point-blank range.
Adding another debut goal to his tally after already bagging opening day goals for Inter, Manchester United, West Brom, and Everton, Tuchel was right to praise Lukaku’s performance following their 2-0 win across the capital.
Arsenal go down fighting
While Chelsea might have managed to open the new campaign with a real flurry as we inch closer to September’s international break, the same cannot be said for an Arsenal side who find themselves in the midst of what has become an extended North London nightmare.
Failing to book any kind of European football after what was a dreadful campaign last season, Mikel Arteta’s struggling squad failed to bounce back from their shock opening weekend 2-0 defeat away at Premier League debutants Brentford.
Opening a top-flight campaign with back-to-back defeats for just the third time in the club’s history, Pep Guardiola’s former right-hand man knows that the pressure is only continuing to mount, despite his side’s energetic second-half display.
With skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang getting half an hour under his belt after coming down with COVID-19 earlier in the month, the Gunners almost came close to getting themselves back into the contest as Holding’s header went inches wide midway through the second-half.
However, while Arteta might have praised his side’s display on Sunday, things don’t get much easier for Arsenal. Next up for the North London outfit on top-flight duties, they will make the trip to the Etihad when they face off against defending champions Manchester City.
Chelsea underline their title credentials
Making the decision to replace Frank Lampard with Tuchel back in January, few across the Premier League would have expected what has been a stellar rise over the past seven months.
Shocking Manchester City as they lifted the Champions League title back in May, the former PSG boss has only seen his side go from strength to strength as they now look in place to mount a serious title charge.
Finishing Sunday’s meeting at the Emirates with 65% possession to their name and only laying down another marker, there is no doubt that Chelsea’s stunning squad depth will be a real concern to those across England.
With UEFA Men’s Player of the Year nominee N’Golo Kante having to settle for just a spot on the bench over the weekend as he returns from a muscle injury, they also had the likes of Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chillwell, Thiago Silva, and Timo Werner waiting in the wings.
Looking to make it three in three next weekend, the Blues will be next seen facing off against Liverpool before heading into the international break.
Arsenal: Leno (7.5), Soares (5), Holding (4), Mari (2), Tierney (3), Lokonga (5.5), Xhaka (5), Pepe (5), Smith Rowe (8), Saka (6), Martinelli (4.5)
Subs: Balogun (5), Tavares (7), Aubameyang (6.5)
Chelsea: Mendy (7), Azpilicueta (8), Christiensen (7), Rudiger (7.5), Alonso (7.5), James (9), Jorginho (7), Kovacic (7), Havertz (7.5), Mount (7), Lukaku (9)
Subs: Kante (8), Ziyech (6.5), Werner (N/A)
Goals: Lukaku 14’, James 34’
Yellow Cards: Lokonga, Mari, Holding
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Paul Tierney
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