It’s a Christmas miracle, Arsenal won a game of football.

We deserved it though, as Laca, Xhaka and Saka got the goals to rock Frank Lampard’s side – and although we conceded late and Bernd Leno saved an injury time penalty, it was more than merited.

It puts an end to a miserable run, and hopefully we can kick on from here.

Read the Arsenal 3-1 Chelsea match report and see the goals here

Arsenal 3-1 Chelsea – Player Ratings

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Mike_14

Martinelli – an absolute example, it was fun to see other players follow his pressing. Tierney, Saka superb again and there is really something in it that while Xhaka can be a problem at times he definitely isn´t the only problem in this club and we can win with him and lose without him. Congrats ESR on a start, hopefully many more starts and good performances will follow from him. Happy Christmas.

Johnny 4 Hats

I feel like Arteta has finally come round to the fact that the young lads are not only the future but the present. I guess he decided to throw them into a game we were expected to lose as it takes a little pressure off in a weird way. I hope and I’m convinced that this will be an end of Willian’s starts. Let’s hope his super agent can get him out of the club in January. He can take David Luiz too if Mari is able to find his feet. Then it’s goodbye trouble makers. It’s a good result… Read more »

Atom

Today was promising although it’s a head scratcher why it took this long to play youth and let attacking players actually attack. Hopefully something to build on

Johnny 4 Hats

I think it’s actually kind of mad and a little out of character for him to act like this. Three big gambles in the team selection today. We haven’t really seen that from Arteta much in his tenure. He’s usually far more pragmatic. And if ESR performs like that on the reg, it’ll help with the Ozil confusion no end. I guess, playing devils advocate, it’s hard to put out unproven youngsters when you have World Cup winners and Champions league winners in your side. But it was time. I can only assume that watching that tepid Everton performance was… Read more »

Atom

100 percent. Think Arteta finally reached a point where he realized continuing to do the same things that weren’t working were going to get him sacked.

edzo

Well, willian and Luiz were unavailable. So what choice did arteta really have.

Hail Gus!

Exactly. He instantly restored Xhaka and presumably ESR or Martinelli would’ve been on the bench if Willian was not unwell. Luiz would have played too. I fear Arteta’s win today was less judgement and more serendipity. One swallow does not a summer make, nor one fine day..

allezkev

It worked in our favour that the ex Chelsea duo dropped out, a change of luck often goes that way and now Arteta needs to stick with the guys who got this result because it’s gonna be a hard slog from here on starting at Brighton which ain’t gonna be easy at all.

Delighted to see Smith Rowe looking the part, we need players like him and they need a chance to play.

The Arsenal

Scarily Willian would have started if he wsn’t ill.

Dawood

I don’t think Arteta has come around at all I think he was forced to this selection because Wilian and Luiz were ill. He would’ve kept playing Willian I can assure you once willian returns I bet you he will be the first player back on the team sheet thats how daft Arteta is. But I’ve been saying this Emery got wins with Martinelli and Saka Starting over Ozil and Pepe last season with Auba in the middle Arteta needs to stick to that attacking players Martinelli Saka Auba or Laca it works because those kids are intelligent hungry and… Read more »

Paul Roberts

In Mikel’s defence he’s played Saka a lot and Martinelli and ESR have only very recently become available.

Atom

He’s tended not to play youth if he had a senior option – martinelli barely played prior to his injury. All the young players that have been playing were given their opportunity by Emery which ultimately is the one positive legacy he has here

Martin

And not forgetting the unavailability of Gabriel and Partey

Johnny 4 Hats

Yeah true enough. I just remember Arteta not giving Gabi much game time last season and ESR has barely had any starts even though he’s been available for weeks now.

Maybe he was just getting them both ready. But historically I didn’t see him starting them both in such a big game.

dave

Because it’s only natural that an inexperienced coach would lean on experience when things are going wrong and not want to overburden and ruin prospects. Smith-Rowe and Martinelli have also had injuries tbf

Auba auba laca partey

Gabi and ESM are just going back from injury and Saka played all games ! What are you on about?

Atom

Gabi barely played under Auba last year prior to his injury.

Atom

Under Arteta.

Matthinc

This isn’t true go and check minutes it’s just a thing people have been saying

Atom

I have. He played in 4 games right when Arteta joined (pl) as Auba was out if remember correctly & then didn’t get off the be bench prior to his injury late summer.

Never Happen

just whining as today didn’t fit a narrative

PEA14

I’m hoping the Brazilian duo in Luis and William is not influencing Gabriel in anyway

A P

I would be convinced if Arteta actually plays the team like this over a sustained period, and not because his favourites are unavailable.

Zet

It is time to tie Martinelli down to a VERY LONG TERM contract.

FMT

Best comment ever!

Daniel

First

Bleeding gums murphy

You are on the wrong site mate.

Bould's Eyeliner

Win on Boxing Day in years!

Danny

I didn’t watch again today. I baked made gingerbread houses with the family. It was wonderful and then I checked the score and saw we won. It sounds like it was great to watch. Congrats to everyone who took the time to watch and it paid off. I feel happy with my evening and seeing that we won. Hopefully this is the start of a good run of form. And if not, I’ve got lots of gingerbread to grow my belly with.

Artetist

That’s the kind of confession you make after a defeat mate…not today…you took the L beforehand..nothing you can do with it now

arsepedant

Banned.

Sylvain Won'tord

Mustafi 10/10 for the warm up (and not coming on)

A Different George

He did come on.

Dave

He is warming up to the trip to Barcelona

Thessaloniki

You get a 10! And you get a 10! And you get 10! (×15)

Cultured Determination

i’d give jorginho a 10 too! thank you!

Freezedawg of Sweden

So happy to see Skippy get robbed like that. I’d give Leno a 10 for that save alone.

Vaibhav

That twat deserved it.

Jack

Smith-Rowe shows that he deserves to start in the premier league games. Everything he did was positive. He’s a fighter.

Awesomesauce25

I agree with you. Except for the stumble when presented with a chance for shot when wide open in the box. Was a real opportunity for him to stake his claim on a starting spot. Really hope he keeps getting chances and making the most of them though.

SB Still

What players Saka and Martinelli are at such an young age!

Onwards and upwards from now please.

Rich

I love them both.

But we should never be in the position, of being this reliant on two teenagers.

potatogooner

It’s not like anyone could have foreseen Pepe and Willian being so bad in their best positions. It is what is is, let’s be positive and back our young wingers.

Sachin

What is reliant? What bunkim.

Rich

Reliant is when you burn out two teenagers, both mentally and physically, because your senior options are absolute trash, and can’t be trusted.

We’ve seen this script before.

A P

We didn’t see that with Cesc. If you are good enough, you are old enough.

Guns Up

100% – are PSG too reliant on Mbappe and burning him out, or he is a phenomenal talent who should be a key piece in their team regardless of his age? I see Saka and Martinelli as exactly that for us. And ESR can he there in the near future.

The Arsenal

Fearless…Direct…

goonshow

had to thumb you down as you left out ESR32 !

artetaball

Saka Meant it and did a firminho to confuse every chelsea player that he was gonna cross it 😉

dave

If you cross enough you will score, it’s just maths

A P

No wonder Arteta was trying to hit 1K crosses a match previously. That should up our winning probability by 5 percentage points.

GoonerKay

Build this team around Martinelli and Saka, absolute gems

BsinGooner

Tierney was 9 for me as well. He and Saka were just brilliant.

Cannon Heart

For a club seemingly always in disarray, have to say, that decision to give Martinelli a 5 year contract after immediately recognising what they have on their hands has got to be one of the best decisions this club has made recently.

Haffy

What is this unusual feeling of winning????

Gael Gatera

Laca Xhaka Saka on the scoresheet. Should have been the bonus rating lol cheers.

Give youth a chance

3 points in the league, who would have thought it?

After the example set by the younger players today, here’s hoping we also get to see more of them

Onenil

Well done everyone!
A massive team effort. Fast progressive passing repeatedly open them up. Solid defending (until the last 5 minutes) made it almost comfortable.

Yolo Toure

Fair play to Xhaka, he had a really good game tonight. If Saka wasn’t so good today he’d have been my man of the match.

It’s sooooo irritating that he has performances like this in him, but mostly chooses to just not.

BillyKrystal

Solid performance indeed, and this might be harsh after that goal, but he still needs to go.

The Arsenal

Its not harsh..That’s the attitude that has led us here. We are too forgiving.

Sachin

It’s not a question of forgiving. When we have someone better than Xhaka, we will surely see him off. Problem lies in recruitment/seeding in young midfielders.

The Arsenal

Fair

SLC Gooner

I was pretty much done defending him after the shambles of that last match. But he was very good today, not just with the free kick. If he performed like this most of the time, I’d have no problem keeping him.

goonshow

But therein lies the rub – he just doesn’t have the consistency. I give him full credit for the effort (and the delivery!) yesterday but the signs were there nonetheless: the cheap free-kick on the edge of our box that could have changed the complex of the entire match.
My point being that with a team so brittle on confidence atm, one player who’s recklessness/lack of ‘team mentality’ can shatter that and put us instantly on the back foot, is just NOT something we can afford.
One stonking free-kick doth neither a player nor a season make!

KingKolo

He can play if people ahead of him actually move. He’s not the best but he’s better than Ceballos and Elneny when there is actually movement up ahead…

dave

Xhaka was never the “problem” but he’s not a solution when things are going wrong. He’s such a pure passer I think that without movement like today he’s totally null.

The Arsenal

Xhaxa is a big problem. He is the heartbeat of the team and has been since Wenger signed him..The problem he is not as good a Centre mid as the other top 6 clubs and over the last two years the top 10-15 teams have also caught up with us to the point they have better midfielders than us.

dave

I think you’re arguing against a point I didn’t really make. I agree, he needs upgrading on but his inclusion in the side doesn’t stop us being competitive. He isn’t the reason we’re 15th in the table. My big issue with him is when movement ahead is poor, he’s got nothing else to his game. I don’t think he’s going to win us the league but, right now, that’s not where we are. If we can sort the 3 behind the striker and the right side of defence out, that will help us far more than if we just dropped… Read more »

Wolffman Paul.

I think Xhaka is capable of this sort of performance, whenever he is confident his efforts will not go to waste. He consistently played good passes, in the belief that someone would make the effort to use them. He has been playing with Mr shop window dummy Willian. and Mr clown boots Pepe. So I can sort of sympathise with his frustration.

Man Manny

MOTM, I am torn between Saka and Tierney.
I think Saka shades it though. What a gem we have on our hands.

CarlosLA

The million pound q is whether Arteta will learn anything from this game when his hand was forced re Willian (as well as not playing Auba & Laca together), and the energy and positivity ESR+Martinelli+Saka provided today. Willian is a sunk cost. Arteta’s Arsenal career is not (yet).

Learn your lesson, Mikel. Please?

Auba auba laca partey

Movement, composed on the ball and great passers (laca, Gabi, Saka should be our regular front 3

Artetist

Movement is the key one…but Arteta don’t rate that..he’ll take the W, but he wont change that for playing the “safe” players (clients)…that suit his style and or agenda

Rohith

The 1st 25 mins were enough to keep their places

dave

We’ve seen when young players come in and do well he plays them. His hesitation seems to be bringing them in too soon and heaping pressure on them they can’t handle. He was cautious with Martinelli at first, but look how keen he was to bring him back as soon as he was fit. He’s shown faith in Willock, Eddie and tonnes in Saka. I don’t see any reason he’d drop Smith-Rowe, though I do think he’s going to be careful with him considering his fitness record.

A Different George

Two points: it’s obvious from his teammates’ reaction after his goal that Xhaka is extremely well-liked in the dressing room. And, for better or worse, that must figure into the team selection–especially when the choices are so limited.

I thought Bellerin was great today; he’s better in a four than a three, and he’s able to be much more influential when he has someone like Saka (or, I think, Pepe) as his winger instead of Willian. Add an attacking midfielder playing to his left, and he’s a top fullback.

Glen Helders left foot

No you’re talking sh*t, just because Xhaka played well today means nothing he’s proved himself time and time again to be well below the level we need

Henkamp

You know you can counter his points without saying he is talking shit, right?

A Different George

I actually agree Xhaka is not good enough too often; I was just suggesting that this is one reason he gets picked so consistently by all his managers, including for Switzerland.

JP2

I agree that he seems well-liked by his teammates, and he does seem to be one of the few players in the squad that have some leadership qualities (which we desperately need), which makes it all the more frustrating that he can’t consistently play at the level that we need.

The Arsenal

Xhaxa has excellent leadership qualities because something made Wenger, than Emery and now Arteta virtually put there jobs on the line for him after every fuck up. Which are massive season ending fuck ups not your og or pen giveaway out of the blue.

kasgood

I read somewhere that Ozil, Mustafi & Xhaka were all popular in the dressing room. But needs must!

thw14

On that basis Ozil is quite well liked as well…. and I agree with the decision to sideline him. Xhaka gets in because he does the leadership shtick. Instead of actual leadership, which starts with playing well consistently.

Stan Adams

Arteta won the game when he left out Luis and Willian,Chelsea looked at the Afc team saw they wasnt playing and realised that its gonna be 11 against 11 instead of 11 against 9 and they bottled it.

Cultured Determination

their spies didnt play.

High gooner

LuiZ has not been a problem this year. Enjoy the win without being negative to the players that didnt play today – thats so unnecesary??

FMT

Thanks High Gooner. You are right, Luiz has not been a problem this year. It’s not fair to put him in the same bucket as Willian

Cultured Determination

and xhaka

Stanley Essuman- Mensah

But in fairness Willian has been far far better than Auba in all games they have featured so far.
He has just been unlucky and adjusting with the positions- sometimes #7, or an 8 or 10 as well as the roles assigned him.Again he can be pacey and intense in his play so he needs to be paired TOGETHER with other pacy and PASSIONATE players as SAKA, MATINELLI & LACA and NOT players like Nketsiah and lack of confidence and form Auba & Xhaka

Eniafe

LMAO, Stan!! Very nice one. Merry Christmas!

Martin

He had no choice anyway as Luiz and Willian are self isolating along with Gabriel

antigooner

Arteta did exactly what I was praying for since ages when he gave Smith-Rowe and Martinelli the chance and by all means they took it freaking well. The drive and dynamic energy they bring into the team with just taking the ball forward, running into free space, exactly that was what the team was missing. There’s no need for a douzen flanks when they all miss their target, today we saw more of that fine combination football we were once known for. More of these young hungry teenagers, this season is not about hitting top 4, 6 or whatever, it… Read more »

T.A.

Wow, how nice it is to win! I can now read the columns and even listen to Alan Shearer. It’s like getting over some horrible disease. And it’s a very white Christmas here in Canada (no surprise). Everything is beautiful all of a sudden.

Sylvain Won'tord

Listen to Alan shearer? Canadian niceness has officially gone too far!

Arsenal’s Slow Bildup

Saka meant it. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it

John

Willian and Pepe; here’s your homework… Take a look at ESR, Saka and Martinelli on the match video. Replay it over and over. Study it carefully. Take notes. That’s what your job looks like when it’s done properly.

Petit's Handbag

Merry Christmas to everyone 🙂

T.A.

Oh and Blogs forgot about rating Willian: 10/10. Played a blinder.

Absolut

Found his best position.

The Arsenal

A new position called Wherever.

Mentalista

Wide midfielder. As in really far wide.

Wolffman Paul.

How can someone give Pepe ab 6 ??? he contributed little or nothing. Perhaps because he didn’t trip over his own feet?

David Hilliers Arm Cast

The next games lineup when Willian is back will be extremely telling.

Here is hoping MA sticks to the lads today who were so positive and played brilliantly.

CarlosLA

Just so much fun to see ESR in there. Constantly finding space between the lines and giving his team a passing angle. Then often played a one touch and turned and sprinted forward into more space. What a difference to see someone who doesn’t hide, and drives the team forward.

ahmad farid ary wardhana

ESR one touch pass and move make me remember about how good the little mozart was
even with his injuries plague.. he still save us in lot of important match

SterdeyGooner

For all the (deserved) praise for the youngsters, shout out to Alex Lacazette. Much maligned this season and with a contractual situation on the balance, he stepped up to provide an experienced platform for the young players to bounce off. A lot if senior players in this squad could learn from that…but ofcourse they wont. So yeah, well done Laca and well done to all the boys

Matt P

Yeah agree, he was very good

Fireman Sam

Agreed. Good all round shift from Laca

GPN

Among the seniors, Laca and Leno I believe had a Mohit role in today’s win. Even the captain for that matter.

GPN

*major role

Venkateshwaran R

We need a RB. Thought HB was poor :/
Was lucky Chelsea didn’t click all that well.. But a great result..

ahmad farid ary wardhana

we have 2 option
Cedric was not that bad, not that good but standard n reliable
and… we can give that spot to AMN who clearly better right now

Martin

Hector had his best game for ages. Totally disagree

Fireman Sam

Hector had a reasonable game but still not quite at the level needed.

It was a good all round team performance and much much better than recent games. Boys all deserve great credit but if I’m being harsh then Elneny, Mari and HB were not quite firing on all cylinders, although Mo redeemed himself to an extent with a stonking shot later on.

Well done lads and thanks for the Christmas pressie.

Mikel, make sure you select on merit!

Eniafe

Thanks lads for the Boxing Day gift/performance! Now, this should be the benchmark for all games going forward, PLEASE. Am I allowed to point out that when we choose to sit back, we should do better at NOT allowing those crosses in?? Upwards and onwards Gunners!🎊🙏

thanasis

blogs, you made a mistake about Xhaka.You put 8, while the right is 0,8! Xhaka is the leader of idiots tell the leaders of armchair coaching…

TOGooner

You are the leader of strange comments

Martin

And arguably was Man of the Match

The Arsenal

One decent game all season…Get a grip.

Fireman Sam

Credit to Xhaka, he was excellent tonight.

heihaci

Good win at last but Chelsea were really poor. Im still not convinced by Arteta. it took him that long to play the youngsters…

heihaci

downrated by another “trust the process” clown

The Arsenal

Why are you so upset about downvotes. Are you here to give your opinion or for clicks.

goonshow

Erm… that’ll be 35 clowns and counting, mate. Or is ‘democracy’ just another ‘process’ you ‘downrate’?

heihaci

just means there are too many sheep. Arteta is out of his depth not sure why so many ppl are convinced by this fraud

goonshow

But only when they don’t share your opinion, right?

Funny that.

John C

There should be a bonus rating for dispensing with the over complicated tactics and game plan.

At no point did I see Xhaka as a third centre back or Elneny at right back or any of the other ridiculous player positions we’ve seen for this season.

A simple 4-2-3-1 formation with players doing normal things and getting the ball forward with some intensity. This isn’t rocket science and if we continue doing this we’ll pick up more points regardless of who’s playing.

Goonerink

Well you missed it then John, both did just that.

thw14

There’s a difference between them doing it occassionally and organically, and them doing an elaborate choreographed sequence on every possession that Big Sam’s great-grand-uncle could suss out.

John C

Exactly, filling space is one thing but the slow choreographed changing of positions has been our downfall this season.

I know many want to paint this result as a win for the youngsters but in reality i think it’s a loss for the tactics that Arteta has been trying to implement

Aleksander Włodarz

there’s still a lot of hope in these guys! they’re simply too good to be losers

Bergkamp2Wright

Yay!

Henry

A win and while it’s a good thing absolutely but we should not forget the fact that Xhaka should have never start.

Fireman Sam

If he plays like he did tonight he can start.

Martin

Well thank heavens he did. Had a great game and scored a fantastic goal

goonshow

Amazed by the 16 down-votes. Short memories lads? One bullet free-kick doesn’t salvage years of sluggish performances and selfishly reckless acts that have repeatedly cost team and club. Petulant displays of ego or misguided machismo – you can call tossing our club, literally, in the dirt, and throttling an opponent, what you will – help neither his team nor the club that awarded him the honour of the captaincy. The guy remains a loose cannon – and, unlike a Bestie or a Gazza or a Maradona, doesn’t have anything like the game-breaking talent, dogged work-rate or motivational charisma/leadership that could… Read more »

goonshow

As the always readable Barney Ronay points out – that bullet free-kick was a ‘triumph of hope over the cold reality of one league goal since March 2019. He averages three assists a year.’ And that makes no mention of the many reds, penalties conceded, cheaply given free kicks, etc
Have a read lads:
https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2020/dec/26/granit-xhaka-strikes-a-telling-blow-but-it-is-the-age-of-saka-arsenal-must-embrace

2highbury

Another strong game from Rob Holding

“A Christmas miracle” – Great choice of words to describe our result and performance today.

Hopefully like Job, we are miraculously cured of our leprosy and can improve from here.

RedandWhite

I know Saka got man of the match and it’s deserved, Martinelli looks levels above all the squad. Tie him down with a 10 year contract because this kid is a different level. His energy is contagious to the squad and KT had his best game with Martinelli drawing defenders with him and allowing KT to isolate the fullback for one v ones which lead to the penalty when KT twisted James up. Ive really stated hating this squad of players (and still can’t stand the majority of the experienced players) but I fucking love Gabriel Martinelli.

ahmad farid ary wardhana

such a game changer even if we remember corectly he came from 4th amateur state league(maybe on par of english sunday league) in brazil..
maybe we can search more player from far lower division like sunday league will do better than buy someone from top division

RedandWhite

I’m not a fan of Edu for most of what he’s done so far but I will give him credit for bringing in Martinelli.

Mentalista

Agree with the sentiment but Ituano is a professional football club and Martinelli shone in the São Paulo state championship, in which even some PL teams would struggle vs giants like Corinthians, Palmeiras, Santos.

Abdul Moeed

I know it’s just one game, but based on what I saw today this should be curtains for Pepe and Willian from our starting eleven.

Although I do think that Arteta might slot Willian in the 10 position, but the positions on the wing are sown up by Martinelli and Saka.

Add Partey and Auba – this looks like a decent team!

ahmad farid ary wardhana

nah.. ESR even Willcock can do better job than that willian

Stanley Essuman- Mensah

I disagree totally with you on this score .
Willian is better in all respects than Willock.
Willow like Pepe most often lose concentration in the final third.
Periodically playing in Europa is and doing well against mediocre teams cannot be compared to playing week in week out in the Premier

Stanley Essuman- Mensah

funny but Wilian has been by far better in terms of passion, involvement , defensive duties, pressing defenders and contributions to attack than Auba who throughout has been passionless and ineffective this season.
Lets call a spade a spade plse

Mikel's Coat

And what a great penalty save that was from Leno!

Paul Smith

Surely the bonus rating has to be 11/10 for keeping 11 players on the pitch!

John

I feared for Mari though after his early yellow, watching him struggle for pace against the likes of Abraham. Credit to him that he played intelligently safe after his booking.

BrazilianGooner

Laca doesn’t get enough credit for all he does for the team!!!

Fireman Sam

Yep if he keeps his head up, Laca is an asset. He’s clever and a fighter.

GPN

He is a fighter

Matt P

Excellent display, and straight from the get go too! Not sure how or why, but suddenly we played a game with energy, directness and cohesion. Martinelli is a great talent, Tierney had a blinder. Bellerin for permanent captain please.

Mikel’s Coat

And Tierney as deputy captain

Matt P

Apart from the clumsy challenge and the penalty, I liked twhat I saw of Mari. Well organized and commanding.

Vonnie

He was good, especially as he hasn’t played for ages, he was getting tired and mistimes his tackle for the penalty but overall a good game, I like him.

James

I think Xhaka always has the potential to be a liability but on the days he brings his strengths to the match (cross field balls, defence splitting passes), he’s actually a pretty decent player on balance – like today!

He’s just a complete liability on the days he doesn’t lol

John C

What Xhaka isn’t is a deep lying midfielder as he lacks the athleticism or concentration levels. His strengths are far more suited to playing further up the pitch

Guns&Gooners

Kai Havertz. Biggest flop in this summer transfer window?

What a great feeling it is when Arsenal win. Please do this more. Everything you did today Arteta, more of it please.

chepetin

Well, surely the biggest flop not called Willian

edzo

We pressed, finally. Winning. It’s like, better than losing.

dave

Maybe the penny has finally dropped for Arteta that he’s going to lose his job if he keeps backing these journeyman older players. Martinelli, Smith-Rowe, Saka, Tierney all excellent and credit to Willock when he came on. Think it’s important too to acknowledge the senior players like xhaka, holding and leno who turned up today.