Chelsea overcame an “awful” start, said boss Frank Lampard, as they staged a stunning late comeback to snatch victory and wreck Mikel Arteta’s return to Emirates Stadium as Arsenal manager.
Arteta, taking charge of his first home game since succeeding the sacked Unai Emery, looked on course for three important points after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s early header put the Gunners in front.
Chelsea, with Lampard making a first-half tactical switch when he introduced Jorginho for the struggling Emerson, were gifted an equaliser seven minutes from time when goalkeeper Bernd Leno hopelessly misjudged Mason Mount’s free-kick to leave the substitute with a simple finish.
Arsenal were doubly frustrated because Jorginho was fortunate to escape a second yellow card earlier for a cynical foul on Lucas Torreira – but Arteta’s home bow was to get even more painful.
Chelsea struck again with three minutes of normal time left, Tammy Abraham turning Arsenal substitute Shkodran Mustafi far too easily in the area to beat Leno and complete the smash-and-grab raid.
“We were so awful for the first 30 minutes; slow, lethargic, nervous,” Lampard told BBC Sport.
“We gave Arsenal everything they wanted. We made the change early, felt it had to be done, and second half we dominated.
“You can accept a miss-pass but you can’t accept lethargy in a London derby. The players were told that and they delivered. The second half was nothing to do with tactics, it was all to do with spirit and desire.”
Arsenal, who lost defender Calum Chambers to injury in the first half, will start 2020 11 points behind fourth-placed Chelsea and without a Premier League home win since 6 October.
It is the first time they have lost four consecutive home matches in all competitions since December 1959.