Arsenal 3-1 Chelsea: Player ratings as Gunners shock with Boxing Day cracker

Mitchell Wilks
Arsenal survived a late flurry to earn a hard-fought victory
Arsenal survived a late flurry to earn a hard-fought victory / Pool/Getty Images

Arsenal strolled to an unexpectedly comfortable 3-1 victory against Chelsea on Boxing Day evening, handing them their first Premier League win since they beat Manchester United back on 1 November.

The Gunners looked hungry from the first whistle and could've scored inside the opening minute of play when Hector Bellerin's cross was scuffed wide by Gabriel Martinelli.

The Gunners made good on Chelsea's early lack of intensity when Kieran Tierney earned a penalty just after the half an hour mark, which was converted by Alexandre Lacazette. Granit Xhaka popped up 10 minutes later and scored an inch perfect free-kick to send Arsenal into the break two nil up.

Chelsea came flying out of the blocks in the second half but again failed to break down the Gunners. Substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi enjoyed a lot of the ball and looked sharp compared to the rest of his teammates, but failure to create any clear cut chances resulted in Arsenal playing their way up the field and adding a third through a Bukayo Saka wondergoal/fluke after 56 minutes.

Mikel Arteta's side were happy to sit back and allow Chelsea to come onto them and always looked comfortable, with Chelsea never really looking like scoring or truly testing Bernd Leno.

The Blues did manage to test the German goalkeeper late on, however. Tammy Abraham scored in the 85th minute and Chelsea could've got back in the game with five minutes added on, but Leno stepped up to save a penalty from Jorginho and secure the three points.

Here's how the players rated in a surprising London derby.


1. Goalkeeper & Defenders

Leno's late penalty save ensured Arsenal left with a win
Leno's late penalty save ensured Arsenal left with a win / Pool/Getty Images

Bernd Leno (GK) - 8/10 - An experienced performance from Leno who had fairly little to do until the final 10 minutes, when he then pulled out a big penalty save to make sure of the Gunners' win.

Hector Bellerin (RB) - 6/10 - Bellerin looked much improved and rose to the occasion having been made captain for the fixture. Smart runs forward were balanced well with clean defensive work which undid Chelsea in wide areas.

Rob Holding (CB) - 7/10 - Shaky first half but he did his job and looked much improved after the break, making four clearances to keep Chelsea at bay during bright spells.

Pablo Mari (CB) - 5/10 - Picked up a rather avoidable booking after just 15 minutes which left him walking on egg shells. He responded well, however, and looked much sharper as the game drew on - until he conceded a late penalty.

Kieran Tierney (LB) - 7/10 - The Scotsman's desire to get forward did make life difficult for his defensive colleagues but also earned the Gunners the penalty and subsequent opening goal in a largely positive 90 minutes.

2. Midfielders

Saka added a third despite perhaps not meaning to
Saka added a third despite perhaps not meaning to / Pool/Getty Images

Mohamed Elneny (DM) - 6/10 - Swept up well but lacked any real ability to break Chelsea's defensive lines with his passing. It didn't matter, though, as his work was enough to keep out the opposition.

Granit Xhaka (DM) - 8/10 - Xhaka didn't have the greatest first half of football, but redeemed himself significantly by doubling the Gunners' lead with a sublime free kick.

Bukayo Saka (RW) - 8/10 - Quiet opening 45 minutes but looked lively as the game grew on with mazy runs. Bagged an all-important third goal for Arsenal in fine fashion, whether he meant it or not.

Emile Smith Rowe (AM) - 6/10 - Looked a little lost at times but generally made a good account for himself considering he was deployed in a position unfamiliar to him. Creative in phases and linked up well for Arsenal's third.

Gabriel Martinelli (LW) - 7/10 - Most of Arsenal's best play came down the right flank, but it was another positive performance from the young Brazilian who seems to have hardly skipped a beat despite spending so much of 2020 out injured. Growing with game time.

3. Forward

Lacazette's penalty was a vitally important opener for Arsenal
Lacazette's penalty was a vitally important opener for Arsenal / Julian Finney/Getty Images

Alexandre Lacazette (ST) - 8/10 - Ice in his veins. The Frenchman worked hard off the ball and tucked away a penalty with complete composure to hand his side a much-needed 1-0 lead, and worked hard throughout the rest of the game in a concentrated performance.

4. Substitutes

Joe Willock - 6/10

Nicolas Pepe - 5/10

Shkodran Mustafi - N/A


5. Goalkeeper & Defenders

James was at fault for the hosts' opener
James was at fault for the hosts' opener / Pool/Getty Images

Edouard Mendy (GK) - 6/10 - Mendy could do little to stop any of Arsenal's goals and came up with some good stops in the second half to keep his side in it. One of the few positives in a poor performance.

Reece James (RB) - 4/10 - Unusual performance from James who lacked the expected level of composure. Gave away a soft penalty and looked shaky after that. Got forward often as the game drew on but couldn't find a way to influence the game.

Kurt Zouma (CB) - 5/10 - Struggled to contain an Arsenal attack that grew in confidence down the flank and was caught positionally at times.

Thiago Silva (CB) - 6/10 - The leader at the back couldn't quite organise his colleagues as Arsenal took the lead and struggled to contain an attack growing in confidence.

Ben Chilwell (LB) - 5/10 - Decent in attack but found himself beaten by Bellerin and Saka on a few occasions throughout the first half.

6. Midfielders

N'Golo Kante battles with Emile Smith Rowe
N'Golo Kante battles with Emile Smith Rowe / ANDREW BOYERS/Getty Images

N'Golo Kante (DM) - 5/10 - Poor first half from Kante who looked off the pace. Dispossessed in dangerous areas on occasion and couldn't efficiently start attacks.

Mateo Kovacic (CM) - 5/10 - Started brightly and drew a foul from Pablo Mari which resulted in a booking, but didn't make use of possession to feed his attackers with enough consistency. Hooked at half-time and understandably so.

Mason Mount (CM) - 5/10 - Similar story for Mount in a largely disappointing and outplayed Chelsea midfield. Came close early on with a free kick, but was far too ineffective throughout the first half.

7. Forwards

Abraham barely saw the ball against Arsenal
Abraham barely saw the ball against Arsenal / Julian Finney/Getty Images

Christian Pulisic (RW) - 7/10 - Looked a threat with every touch of the ball and used the space afforded down the left to his advantage, be it slipping through a teammate or winning a free kick.

Tammy Abraham (ST) - 6/10 - Frustrating first half for Abraham who was often left waiting for a touch in the opposition area, which resulted in his head being down after the break. Starved of service but managed to add a late consolation, after a VAR correction.

Timo Werner (LW) - 4/10 - Werner lacked any real cutting edge and looked lost once again down the left flank, which saw him subbed off ahead of the second half.

8. Substitutes

Jorginho - 4/10

Callum Hudson-Odoi - 7/10

Kai Havertz - 5/10