It was Emirates and in front of a packed crowd, Arsenal should have been inspired, but in turn, it was the visitors, who enjoyed the evening under the shower and struck twice to maintain their winning run. Meanwhile, the Gunners lost yet another Premier League game without scoring a goal for the first time.
London is Blue. 🔵 pic.twitter.com/Kkb9r4AeOb
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) August 22, 2021
Mikel Arteta makes three changes following the opening night defeat at Brentford. At right-back, Soares replaced Chambers, with Holding coming in alongside him at right center-back – White was not well – and on the right-wing, Saka returned, a move that saw Gabriel Martinelli relocated to center-forward position along with Balogun dropping to a bench with Aubameyang.
Thomas Tuchel left out Chalobah despite his inspiring, affirming goal against Crystal Palace – Cesar Azpilicueta moved to right center-back, with Reece James returning at right wing-back; Kai Havertz also came in, for Christian Pulisic who is COVID positive, while Romelu Lukaku made his second debut, with Timo Werner left out.
Most of the coaches, usually bring the new signings from the bench, but Tuchel had no plans for drama, but let the drama and excitement take place on the pitch from the word go. The inclusion of Lukaku in the starting XI rejuvenated the Blues, who looked energized and hungry for goals.
Romelu Lukaku's first goal since re-signing for Chelsea! 🔵 pic.twitter.com/GWUfk7pLU8
— Soccer AM (@SoccerAM) August 22, 2021
Arsenal started well and Bukayo Saka showed for the ball, holding up and knocking down for Xhaka, who drilled a shot just wide of the post.
Chelsea got control over the game within eight minutes – probing by moving the ball across the pitch, then looking for Lukaku over the top. He could not catch up with it, though, and it skidded out of play for a goal kick.
A quick counter witnessed Arsenal running down that left flank, Tierney getting two chances to stick crosses into the box, but neither do anything well and again, a decent switch from Lokonga controlled beautifully by Tierney, whose first touch sets him up for a cross along the corridor, which Alonso turned behind.
The match was fifteen minutes old when Lukaku came deep to accept a pass from Kovacic, giving it back and bursting towards the box, bodying Mari in the process. Meanwhile, the ball went wide to James, who squared it to Lukaku for the tap-in.
A assist and now a goal, Reece James is having a day 💫
— Serie A on Paramount+ ⚽️🇮🇹 (@CBSSportsGolazo) August 22, 2021
Mari just didn’t have the power to handle Lukaku there, and he was also played on the mental side too, gulled into pursuing a ball he could never win, and then spun.
The goal changed the mood at Emirates as the Blues were looking sharper.
They were playing like the European Champions, not tearing Arsenal apart with football but sweating them off with confidence. Havertz swung a switch out to James, who had Lukaku in the middle but he opted for the cut-back, and Havertz’s shot is blocked while Lukaku discovered his ignoration every bit as hilarious as one would expect.
Mount fed a cunning little pass into Lukaku, who quickly controlled and then slammed a shot into the nearest defensive body.
⭐️ Man of the Match, @ChelseaFC’s Romelu Lukaku
⚽️ Scored on 2nd Chelsea debut
8 Shots – most in match
2 On target – most in match
11 Touches in opp. box – most in match pic.twitter.com/Nb0CLgyM2h
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) August 22, 2021
Havertz and Alonso combined nicely down the left; Alonso sent a square pass into Lukaku. He would not control it, but a desperate tackle opened the space for Mount to punch the ball one more, to James on the right of the box. He takes a touch to control, then hammers a rising outswinger past Leno almost like a free-kick.
At the stroke of halftime, the heavens opened and it started to rain heavily.
After the break, Arsenal started to press the Blues, but it was like the early morning dew that faded as the match progressed. No matter how they much pressed to keep the Blues on the back foot for a while, after a while, the visitors regained control.
Azpilicueta ventured forward and swung a shin-high cross at Lukaku, who spun and tried to volley, the resultant block earning Chelsea a corner – it was not productive.
1.41 – Romelu Lukaku posted a non-penalty expected goals figure of 1.41 against Arsenal, the highest return of any player in the Premier League so far this season. He has put up a higher figure only eight times in 325 games in Europe's top five leagues. Feast. pic.twitter.com/MB5FODjr2c
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 22, 2021
A switch saw James in possession and he squared for Lukaku, who touches off and Mount drilled wide.
Arteta brought on Aubameyang, who was not up to the mark, and Martinelli was substituted to inject some fresh legs, but nothing happened for the Gunners. Tierney was limping, an ankle I think, so Tavares replaces him.
With the second half almost disappearing, Mount discovered himself at inside-right and flipped a decent cross at Lukaku, who got in front of Holding and flings himself into a vicious head-butt that Leno palmed onto the bar! That was a terrific header but an even better save, and Lukaku was equal parts horrified and bewildered.
And that was the last real action as the Blues earned another full point, while Arsenal are left pondering about their poor form.