Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea: Kai Havertz & Tammy Abraham Seal Blues Pre-Season Bragging Rights in London Derby
Chelsea sealed a 2-1 win over Arsenal to maintain their 100 per cent record in pre-season so far on Sunday afternoon at the Emirates.
It was an entertaining affair at the Emirates but it was Chelsea who came out on top to beat their London counterparts.
On his return to the Blues side, Kai Havertz opened the scoring at the Emirates in the 26th minute, smashing home from close range.
Granit Xhaka drew Arsenal level in the 69th minute with a header into the far corner.
Tammy Abraham slotted into the back of the net in the 72nd minute to restore the lead, punishing Hector Bellerin and Arsenal, who played it straight into the feet of the Chelsea forward.
Chelsea started off with a 3-4-3 with. Christian Pulisic on the right and Callum Hudson-Odoi on the left. The latter, inside four minutes, cut it back for Ruben Loftus-Cheek on the edge of the area, but his effort deflected off of Kai Havertz.
A bright opening to the game saw the Gunners break through with Emile Smith-Rowe who slipped in the pacey Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, but his cross was well cut out by Edouard Mendy.
Loftus-Cheek made an excellent start to the game in north London as Thomas Tuchel’s side looked dangerous on the attack early on.
Chelsea took the lead in the 26th minute when Chelsea broke from the edge of their box. Mateo Kovacic clipped a ball into Timo Werner who ran and found Kai Havertz, and the German slammed it past Bernd Leno into the roof of the net from close range.
Werner had a chance three minutes later to double the lead. He was played in by Hakim Ziyech down the left channel but could only toe-poke it into the side netting.
Arsenal nearly found a leveller in the 31st minute. Smith Rowe collected the ball on the edge of Chelsea’s box, but his left-footed effort was kept out by the post.
The hosts were forced into a change five minutes before half-time. Thomas they couldn’t shrug off an early knock and was replaced by Granit Xhaka.
It was Chelsea’s turn to be denied by the post in the 43rd minute. Ziyech bided his time in the box before striking a left-footed, technically-superb effort towards goal, but it cannoned off the post and away.
Mateo Kovacic collected the first booking of the friendly following a foul on Kieran Tierney.
Chelsea continued to attack and were denied of a second in first-half stoppage time. Ziyech found Hudson-Odoi on the wing, who danced into the box past Pablo Mari but his near post effort was saved by Leno.
Tammy Abraham, Davide Zappacosta, Danny Drinkwater, Malang Sarr and Dujon Sterling all came on for the Blues at half-time as Tuchel made the changes. The returning internationals of Havertz, Werner, Kovacic, Antonio Rudiger and Kurt Zouma were all replaced.
Abraham had a half chance early on in the second half from close range. Zappacosta cut it back for the forward but he couldn’t take advantage to get on the scoresheet. Nicolas Pepe skewed a shot wide for the hosts soon after, which Edouard Mendy covered and cleared the danger from the resulting corner.
Ziyech squandered a glorious chance to double the lead. He could’ve and should’ve made it two nil in the 54th minute. He rounded Leno but delayed and delayed his effort, and Ben White, who was making his Arsenal debut, made the last-ditch block to deny the Moroccan.
Mendy was called into action when Arsenal were awarded a free-kick from a dangerous position outside the area, but Alexandre Lacazette’s curling effort was tipped away by the Blues keeper.
Tuchel made more changes as the minutes ticked by in north London. Ross Barkley, N’Golo Kante, Baba Rahman, Michy Batshuayi and Kepa Arrizabalaga all entered the fray.
Rahman in the 65th minute, minutes after coming on, lashed a half-chance over the bar from inside the box.
Sterling made an excellent challenge to perfectly-time cutting a rushing Pepe towards goal out, to deny the winger of getting a shot away.
But Arsenal did level the scores in the 69th minute. Xhaka headed Pepe’s corner delivery down into the ground and it found the corner, leaving Kepa with no chance.
Three minutes later and Chelsea restored their lead! Tammy Abraham cooly slotted past Leno as the Blues pressed the hosts into a passing error at the back. Hector Bellerin played a pass straight into the path of Abraham to gift Tuchel’s men the opportunity to retake the lead, which they did.
Aubameyang had a decent chance to pull Arsenal all square once again but he couldn’t quite meet the cross into the box, which sailed across the Chelsea box, to safety.
Arsenal thought they had struck level heading into the final 10 minutes. Joe Willock was on the end of Pepe’s pull back and his strike appeared to have crossed the line, however no goal was given.
It could’ve been three for the Blues in the closing minutes but Abraham opted to be unselfish, however played the ball straight int the path of the Arsenal defenders to give the hosts a glimmer of hope.
Chalobah was replaced late on by Tuchel for Jake Clarke Salter.
Another chance came for Chelsea in the 87th minute, again for Abraham. He ran at goal alone, coming in from the left-hand side, but his effort was saved by Leno before deflecting back off the Chelsea forward, eventually being cleared by White.
The visitors held on in north London to take the bragging rights in their penultimate game of pre-season. Havertz came back with a bang which will have left Tuchel feeling positive.
Another pre-season fixtures and another game without a clean sheet sees Chelsea with plenty to improve on heading into Tottenham on Wednesday and the new season which is less than two weeks away.
But a win is a win for Chelsea who keep up their winning streak in pre-season. Three from three. Job done for the Champions League winners.
Chelsea sit top of the Mind Series league – if they beat Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday, it’s another trophy for the Blues!