For Arsenal’s travelling supporters, it could not have played out better. As they celebrated what proved to be the winning goal from defender Gabriel, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was hooked by Chelsea head coach Graham Potter.
It was a cause for double celebration in the away end at Stamford Bridge and Arsenal left with a fully deserved three points that took Mikel Arteta’s team back to the top of the Premier League table.
This was Arsenal’s third successive victory at Chelsea, but in neither of the two previous wins had the Gunners controlled the match so convincingly.
Thomas Partey was exceptional in the centre of Arsenal’s midfield and Gabriel Jesus, who has not scored since October 1, gave his Brazilian team-mate Thiago Silva a torrid afternoon.
It was Jesus who bullied Silva into the mistake that led to the corner from which Arsenal scored their winning goal just after the hour mark. The striker’s shot from a tight angle was saved by Edouard Mendy, but Chelsea did not defend the set piece properly. Bukayo Saka’s delivery was missed by a number of players at the front post and Gabriel poked the ball over the line from close range.
That was the cue for Potter to replace Aubameyang with Armando Broja. The striker’s biggest contribution in his first meeting against the club he had captained was to earn a yellow card for a late challenge on Ben White in the first half.
When he went off, Aubameyang had touched the ball eight times in his 64 minutes on the pitch, four in the first period and four in the second.
Jesus should have put Arsenal ahead in the first half, heading Gabriel Martinelli’s inswinging cross wastefully wide, but the most entertaining action before the break was on the touchline.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, not for the first time in the match, wanted Marc Cucurella booked for a supposed push on Saka that was not even given as a free-kick. Saka responded by fouling the Chelsea left-back and being shown a yellow card.
As Arteta ranted and raved on the touchline, Potter signalled that he believed Saka had dived and also appeared to shout something in the direction of the Spaniard.
Shortly after Gabriel had given Arsenal the lead, Martin Odegaard should have doubled the visitors’ advantage. Jesus skipped his way around Silva and set up the midfielder, who chipped his shot over the crossbar.
The defeat was Chelsea’s second under Potter and their second in succession in the Premier League. With Arsenal dreaming of a title challenge, the seventh-placed Blues must already be concerned about the battle they face to finish in the top four.