Arsenal made it two defeats from two games under Unai Emery as they fought back from 2-0 down only to lose 3-2 away at Chelsea on Saturday.
Emery’s men were guilty of a shocking performance at both ends of the pitch in the opening 20 minutes as they missed a succession of excellent chances and conceded two bad goals, to Pedro and Alvaro Morata.
The sense this was a match featuring two teams who don’t quite have a grasp of their new managers’ intentions increased when Arsenal suddenly fought back in a bizarre first half, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi making it 2-2 before half time.
Chelsea’s introduction of Eden Hazard in the second half proved crucial, though, as he set up Marcos Alonso for the winning goal on 81 minutes and Arsenal had no response. Instead there are fresh questions after a second defeat in two admittedly difficult games.
The response from 2-0 down was stirring and Arsenal created no end of chances in the first half. It was downhill from there, though.
The first two games of Emery’s reign will have drilled home just how much work he has to do with this defence. Chelsea were 2-0 up after 20 minutes and Arsenal’s defence was found wanting on both occasions: especially the second goal which came via a basic long ball upfield.
Arsenal could have put the game to bed with the chances they had, and missed, in the first half and they were strangely inhibited in the second. Those defensive problems reared their head again for Alonso’s winning goal.
Manager rating out of 10
5 — Emery made a big call in leaving out Aaron Ramsey and Lucas Torreira from the start and he did well to correct it as early as half time when the awful Granit Xhaka was removed.
The Arsenal boss coaxed a response out of his team after a poor start and he deserves credit for his proactive decision-making, but it’s clear he’s still struggling to find the right balance with this team and it needs to be found quickly.
Inheriting Arsene Wenger’s mess appears to be a substantial challenge.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Petr Cech, 6 — His attempt to stop the second Chelsea goal was woeful but a smart save to stop Morata on 38 minutes helped keep Arsenal in the game. Another expert save from Ross Barkley on 56 minutes then kept them on level terms as Cech held his own on his return to his former club.
DF Hector Bellerin, 5 — Defensively suspect as Chelsea enjoyed a lot of joy on his side of the pitch. Denied an assist when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was guilty of a horrendous miss on 19 minutes but the overall impression was that of a player with plenty to work on — especially as he floundered for the third goal.
DF Sokratis Papastathopoulos, 5 — Arsenal’s high line didn’t play to his strengths and the defensive unit as a whole was susceptible to being breached. Not a commanding display.
DF Shkodran Mustafi, 5 — Looked clueless when Morata sent him one way and then the other for the second goal. Mustafi always looked on the verge of a mistake and needs to improve quickly.
DF Nacho Monreal, 6 — Played a crucial role in Arsenal’s first goal as he made a smart interception and fed Iwobi. Struggled along with the rest of the back four though.
MF Granit Xhaka, 4 — It was a big match for the Swiss midfielder after he started ahead of Ramsey and Torreira but he did little to justify Emery’s faith. Failed to follow runners from midfield and was booked for a typically terrible tackle. No surprise when he made way at half time.
MF Matteo Guendouzi, 6 — It’s clear he still isn’t up to speed with the pace of the game after being caught in possession on occasion, but when he had time the youngster showed off his impressive range of passing. Also competed well for the ball.
MF Alex Iwobi, 7 — It was an excellent finish for Arsenal’s second goal as he swept the ball home and he looked impressive when drifting into central areas. Gave a good account of himself before being taken off with 15 minutes to go.
MF Mesut Ozil, 5 — Enjoyed an early sight of goal only to shoot wide on eight minutes and it didn’t really happen for him overall. Arsenal’s best moments didn’t involve him and he was taken off on 69 minutes.
MF Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 7 — Started appallingly as he let Alonso go for Chelsea’s opener and then missed a sitter but a goal and an assist before half time showed his value to the team.
FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 4 — Had a shocker. Missed a huge chance on 19 minutes with Chelsea scoring their second within 60 seconds. Another miss came before half time and it’s clear he still needs to find his role in Emery’s system.
Lucas Torreira (on for Xhaka, 45), 6 — Couldn’t change the game for Arsenal as Hazard began to take control,
Aaron Ramsey (on for Ozil, 69), 6 — Almost snatched a draw with a rasping effort in the final minute but otherwise failed to leave his mark on the game. Will hope to start next time.
Alexandre Lacazette (on for Iwobi, 75), N/R — Was brought on to win the game bit helped to lose it with an awful contribution to Chelsea’s third as he lost possession.