Player ratings as Gunners shock with Boxing Day cracker
Arsenal clinched an unexpected and comfortable 3-1 victory over Chelsea on Boxing Day night, giving them their first Premier League win since defeating Manchester United on November 1.
The Gunners looked hungry from the first whistle and could have scored in the first minute of play when Hector Bellerin’s cross was scuffed by Gabriel Martinelli.
The Gunners made up for Chelsea’s lack of early intensity when Kieran Tierney got a penalty just after the half hour, which was converted by Alexandre Lacazette. Granit Xhaka appeared 10 minutes later and scored a perfect one-inch free kick to send Arsenal into the two-zero break.
Chelsea came out of the blocks in the second half, but failed to break the Gunners. Substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi enjoyed the ball very much and looked sharp compared to the rest of his teammates, but the inability to create clear chances led Arsenal to make their way onto the pitch and add a third thanks to a fluke / lucky break from Bukayo Saka. after 56 minutes.
Mikel Arteta’s side were happy to sit down and allow Chelsea to join them and always looked at ease with Chelsea never really looking to score or really test Bernd Leno.
The Blues, however, managed to test the German goalkeeper late. Tammy Abraham scored in the 85th minute and Chelsea could have come back into the game with an extra five minutes, but Leno stepped up to save a Jorginho penalty and secure all three points.
Here’s how the players ranked in a surprising London derby.
Bernd Leno (GK) – 8/10 – An experienced performance from Leno who had little to do until the last 10 minutes, when he then pulled out a big penalty save to secure the Gunners victory.
Hector Bellerin (RB) – 6/10 – Bellerin looked much improved and seized the opportunity after being named captain for the game. The smart runs ahead were well balanced with clean defensive work which destroyed Chelsea in wide areas.
Rob Holding (CB) – 7/10 – Second first half, but he did his job and looked much improved after the break, making four clearances to keep Chelsea at bay during the bright periods.
Pablo Mari (CB) – 5/10 – Picked up a rather avoidable reservation after just 15 minutes which left him walking on eggshells. He responded well, however, and looked much sharper as the game progressed – until he conceded a late penalty.
Kieran Tierney (LB) – 7/10 – The Scotsman’s desire to move forward made life difficult for his defensive colleagues, but also earned the Gunners the penalty and the first goal in a largely positive 90 minutes.
Mohamed Elneny (DM) – 6/10 – Well swept but lacked any real ability to break Chelsea’s defensive lines with his pass. It didn’t matter, however, as his work was enough to prevent the opposition.
Granite Xhaka (DM) – 8/10 – Xhaka didn’t have the best first half in football, but redeemed himself significantly by doubling the Gunners’ lead with a sublime free kick.
Bukayo Saka (RW) – 8/10 – The silent 45-minute opening but seemed lively as the game developed with Mazy’s runs. Scored a very important third goal for Arsenal in a refined way, like it or not.
Emile Smith Rowe (AM) – 6/10 – He looked a bit lost at times, but he generally realized well that he was deployed in an unfamiliar position. Creative in phases and well linked for Arsenal’s third.
Gabriel Martinelli (LW) – 7/10 – Most of Arsenal’s best games have come down the right flank, but it was another positive performance from the young Brazilian who appears to have barely skipped a beat despite so much of 2020 being injured. Grow with play time.
Alexandre Lacazette (ST) – 8/10 – Ice in his veins. The Frenchman worked hard on the ball and brought in a penalty kick with complete poise to give his side a much needed 1-0 lead, and worked hard the rest of the game in a focused performance.
Joe Willock – 6/10
Nicolas Pepe – 5/10
Shkodran Mustafi – N / A
Édouard Mendy (GK) – 6/10 – Mendy couldn’t do much to stop one of Arsenal’s goals and made some good saves in the second half to keep his side. One of the few positives of poor performance.
Reece James (RB) – 4/10 – Unusual performance by James who did not have the expected level of composure. Escaped a slight penalty and looked shaky after that. Often moved forward as the game progressed, but couldn’t find a way to influence the game.
Kurt Zouma (CB) – 5/10 – Struggled to contain an attack from Arsenal who gained confidence on the flank and were occasionally caught in position.
Thiago Silva (CB) – 6/10 – The leader at the back couldn’t quite organize his colleagues as Arsenal took the lead and struggled to contain an attack that grew in confidence.
Ben Chilwell (LB) – 5/10 – Decent attack but found himself beaten by Bellerin and Saka a few times throughout the first half.
N’Golo Kante (DM) – 5/10 – Bad first half for Kante who looked out of place. Dispossessed in dangerous areas on occasion and could not launch attacks effectively.
Mateo Kovacic (CM) – 5/10 – Started brilliantly and drew a foul from Pablo Mari which resulted in a reservation, but didn’t use possession to feed his attackers with enough consistency. Hanging at half-time and naturally.
Mason frame (CM) – 5/10 – Similar story for Mount in a largely underwhelming and outmatched Chelsea midfielder. Came early with a free kick, but was far too ineffective throughout the first half.
Christian Pulisic (RW) – 7/10 – Watched a threat with every contact of the ball and used the space allowed on the left to his advantage, whether it was passing through a teammate or winning a free kick.
Tammy Abraham (ST) – 6/10 – Frustrating the first half for Abraham who was often left waiting for a touch in the opposition zone, which made him bow his head after the break. Hungry for service but managed to add late consolation, after a VAR fix.
Timo Werner (LW) – 4/10 – Werner lacked a real edge and looked lost once again on the left flank, which saw him substituted before the second half.
Jorginho – 4/10
Callum Hudson-Odoi – 7/10
Kai Havertz – 5/10