Arsenal survived a late scare to end their winless run in the Premier League as Mikel Arteta’s much-maligned side claimed a thoroughly deserved 3-1 victory over Chelsea.
The Gunners headed into the Boxing Day clash at Emirates Stadium having lost five of their last seven Premier League matches, yet were worthy winners against Frank Lampard’s hapless team to mark the one-year anniversary of Arteta’s first game in charge in style.
Alexandre Lacazette’s penalty put Arsenal ahead in a league game for the first time since a win over Manchester United on November 1, and a stunning Granit Xhaka free-kick doubled their tally.
Bukayo Saka then embarrassed Edouard Mendy early in the second half though, after Tammy Abraham’s VAR-awarded goal, Arsenal ultimately had to rely on Bernd Leno’s save from Jorginho’s penalty to prevent a nervy finish.
That meant Chelsea were condemned to a third defeat in four league games.
Saka set the tone early on, getting in behind and crossing for Gabriel Martinelli, who volleyed wide.
Chelsea seemed to have asserted authority when Mason Mount’s free-kick clipped the post, yet Arsenal were ahead in the 34th minute, as Lacazette sent Mendy the wrong way from the spot after Reece James was adjudged to have fouled Kieran Tierney.
While Lacazette became Arsenal’s leading scorer, the Gunners’ second came from an unlikely source – Xhaka curling in a sublime 25-yard free-kick on the stroke of half-time.
Lampard introduced Callum Hudson-Odoi and Jorginho at half-time, but it was Arsenal who struck again 11 minutes after the restart.
Having cut into the area, Saka spotted Mendy off his line, and floated in an audacious – perhaps accidental – effort in off the left-hand upright.
Three key saves from Mendy denied Arsenal a fourth, before Mohamed Elneny struck the bar.
Chelsea made their fortune count when Abraham chested in Christian Pulisic’s cross, and Arsenal’s nerves were fraught when Pablo Mari felled Mount.
Yet Jorginho, who has now missed two of his last four penalties, failed to tee up a grandstand finish – Leno diving to his left to hold onto a weak shot.
Arsenal: Leno 7, Holding 6, Pablo Mari 6, Tierney 8, Bellerin 7, Elneny 6, Xhaka 6, Saka 7, Smith-Rowe 7 (Willock 65, 7), Lacazette 6 (Mustafi 90) Martinelli 8 (Pepe 71, 6)
Subs not used: Ceballos, Runarsson, Aubameyang, Maitland-Niles, Cedric, Nketiah
Goals: Lacazette pen 24, Xhaka 44, Saka 56
Bookings: Mari, Tierney
Manager: Mikel Arteta 7
Chelsea: Mendy 5, James 5, Zouma 6, Thiago Silva 6, Chilwell 6, Kante 6 (Havertz 74, 6), Kovacic 6 (Jorginho 45, 5), Mount 6, Pulisic 6, Abraham 6, Werner 5 (Hudson-Odoi 45, 5)
Subs not used: Arrizabalaga, Rudiger, Giroud, Gilmour, Azpilicueta, Emerson Palmieri
Goals: Abraham 85
Manager: Frank Lampard 5
Referee: Michael Oliver