Romelu Lukaku and Reece James were on target as Chelsea defeated Arsenal 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium on Matchday 2 of the 2021/22 Premier League.
Playing in front of their fans, Arsenal started off with bright intensity, but soon found themselves overpowered by Chelsea, who took the lead just fifteen minutes into the game when Romelu Lukaku, making his second debut for the Blues, produced the simplest of tap-ins to turn home Reece James’ cross.
Chelsea continued to dominate the proceedings and their control paid off as twenty minutes later, they were able to double their tally with James himself getting into the goalscoring act after some shoddy defending from the hosts. Arsenal had a few moments here and there, with Bukayo Saka getting turned down on a penalty shout while Rob Holding missed a chance in the second half.
However, Thomas Tuchel’s men never really looked all too troubled and could have had more goals if not for Bernd Leno, who made good stops to deny Lukaku and Kai Havertz even as Chelsea cruised to a comfortable win. The result means, the Blues have now won two in two and are atop the Premier League table while Arsenal are yet to collect a single point, with pressure rising on Mikel Arteta.
Here are our player ratings for both Arsenal and Chelsea stars after Sunday’s London derby at the Emirates Stadium.
Bernd Leno: 6/10
Given the nod over new signing Aaron Ramsdale, the German international was yet again let down by a shaky defence. Not a lot he could have done about either of Chelsea’s goals. But did pull off a fine stop to deny Lukaku and stopped Havertz’s effort as well.
Cedric Soares: 3/10
Preferred over Calum Chambers, the Portuguese international never really looked up for it. Positioning was all over the place, while he was also guilty of playing Lukaku onside for the opening goal. Hardly offered anything going forward. Arsenal need an upgrade in the position and soon.
Rob Holding: 5/10
Came in after Ben White became unavailable. The best of the Arsenal defenders on the evening, although that isn’t saying much. Won a few aerials, was fairly accurate with the ball at his feet. However, should have scored in the second half.
Pablo Mari: 3/10
Absolutely bossed and bullied by Lukaku on the day. Never really had a chance as the Chelsea forward was all over him from the word go. Picked up a silly booking in the first half and was just shambles throughout.
The way Lukaku bullied Pablo Mari there, initially receiving the ball with back to goal and then with the run… shades of Drogba/Costa #CFC
— Liam Twomey (@liam_twomey) August 22, 2021
Kieran Tierney: 3/10
Got dragged in centrally way too often, which meant Reece James had a field day running into the vacant spaces on the flank and putting in dangerous crosses. Not much in the way of attacking contribution either. One of his worst displays in Arsenal colours. Went off injured.
Albert Sambi Lokonga: 6.5/10
Probably the best Arsenal player on the pitch on the evening. Covered well on the right side when needed, helped his midfield partner in dangerous situations all the while playing some slick passes, especially in the second half. Promising signs.
Granit Xhaka: 4/10
Unlike Lokonga, hardly offered any sort of protection to Tierney against James, which was a major issue for Arsenal. The Chelsea midfield bypassed him with relative comfort time and again, although he did show some signs of fight after the break. Still, not good enough from one of Arsenal’s most senior players.
Nicolas Pepe: 5/10
A game of hits and misses for the Ivorian, with the latter overweighing the former. Had a few nice moments when he made dangerous runs, but could not always capitalise. Wasn’t willing to track back and help out defensively either.
Appreciation post for Emile Smith Rowe and Lokonga.
The only positives for Arsenal. pic.twitter.com/pAysavwBDW
— Onyebuchi (@onyebuchind) August 22, 2021
Emile Smith Rowe: 6/10
Another positive on the evening for Arsenal. While the academy graduate wasn’t able to help his team overturn the deficit, he was up for the fight and always wanted to get on the ball. Made a few good forward runs, although the final ball was found wanting at times.
Bukayo Saka: 6/10
Looked lively on his return to the starting XI. Had a penalty claim turned down late in the first half and tried to create openings for those around him, while also forcing a save in the second period. Still lacking a bit of sharpness and was taken off around the hour mark.
Gabriel Martinelli: 4/10
A quiet display from the Brazilian, who hardly had any sort of service to work with. Isolated at the top, he hardly saw the ball. Will see better days.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 5.5/10
Replaced Saka in the 61st minute. The 30-minute run-out will have done him good, while the team, too, looked better with him on the pitch.
Nuno Tavares: 6/10
On for the injured Tierney in the 66th minute. Looked bright in his short cameo.
Folarin Balogun: N/A
Came on for Martinell with a little over ten minutes left.
Edouard Mendy: 7/10
Did not have a whole lot to do but was alert in key moments, making a good stop to deny Saka in the second half before charging out to deny Aubameyang an opportunity. Distribution solid throughout.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 7/10
Moved into the right-sided centre-back role, the Chelsea captain stood solid, not letting anything get past him. Made quite a few crucial interventions to stop Saka and Smith Rowe from getting in.
Andreas Christensen: 7/10
Swept up everything that came his way with ease, while dealing with Martinelli rather comfortably. The Danish international has started the new season on a strong note.
Antonio Rudiger: 7/10
Like his defensive partners, not troubled a great deal by the home team. And on the rare occasion when they did try to have a go at him, he was happy to retaliate. Solid.
Reece James: 8/10
Reece James doing it all at the Emirates 🔥 pic.twitter.com/siN7cQ5fGE
— B/R Football (@brfootball) August 22, 2021
Brought into the team at right wing-back, the England international was all over Tierney from the get-go. Had so much joy down the right side, as he set Lukaku up for the opening goal with a fine cross before finding the back of the net himself not long after. Could have given away a penalty close to half-time, but got away with it.
Comfortable. Helped Chelsea control proceedings as he kept things ticking along with his precise passes. Direct passes into Lukaku’s feet were something of a highlight. Dropped deeper as the game wore on to ensure the gates remained shut.
Mateo Kovacic: 7/10
Had a hand in the buildup to the opening goal and played with typical industry in the middle of the park. Had a few minor issues after the break as Arsenal improved and made way for N’Golo Kante.
Marcos Alonso: 7/10
Another encouraging display from the Spaniard, who seemingly has overtaken Ben Chilwell as the first-choice left wing-back on current form. Always an outlet going forward, posing problems to the hosts. Not stretched defensively with Pepe hardly threatening.
Mason Mount: 8/10
Mason Mount vs Arsenal
85% pass accuracy
4 key passes
3 big chances created
1 successful dribble
1 tackle won
Mount & Reece James both excellent today. Chelsea youth academy. 🔵💪 pic.twitter.com/01aJKKxtNU
— Football Talent Scout – Jacek Kulig (@FTalentScout) August 22, 2021
Ran the show in the final third for Chelsea with some brilliant inter-play and lovely passing. Created the second goal with a fine through ball to James and should have had another assist with his sublime cross to Lukaku later on. Finished with four key passes. Purposeful with his pressing off-the-ball as well.
Kai Havertz: 6.5/10
Coming into the side in place of Christian Pulisic, the German international showed signs of an understanding with Lukaku. Caused problems with his movement and passing, although needed to capitalise on a couple of chances that came his way.
Romelu Lukaku: 8/10
A second debut to remember for the Belgian international. Chelsea’s club-record signing was up for it from the kickoff, dominating the Arsenal defence with ease. Top-notch hold-up play, linked up nicely with those around him and marked the game with a goal. Could have had another if not for Leno’s top save. Chelsea are a major threat with him on the field.
Romelu Lukaku has scored over 100 Premier League goals — but scoring in his return to Chelsea meant the most to him 💙 pic.twitter.com/8WM2HrVzaM
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 22, 2021
N’Golo Kante: 6/10
Replaced Kovacic for the final twenty minutes or so. Helped Chelsea see out the game.
Hakim Ziyech: N/A
Made his return from injury replacing Mount in the 82nd minute.
Timo Werner: N/A
Late substitute for Havertz.