It’s the beginning of a new dawn in London. Two weeks into the 2018/19 Premier League season, Chelsea and Arsenal collided in a toxic London derby under new managers.
On the red side, it was the first time in 22 years that a new manager will oversee the game from the touchline; Unai Emery, taking over the seat of Arsene Wenger for Arsenal.
Similarly, yet quite usual, Chelsea had Maurizio Sarri in charge, the club’s latest of many managers who have tinkered this derby amongst other fixtures.
Everything looked blue from the blast of ref Atkinson’s whistle. Chelsea dominated early proceedings while Arsenal appeared not to have recovered from the Manchester City hangover.
In no time, the Blues raced to a 2-0 lead courtesy of Pedro and Alvaro Morata; the former scoring his second goal of the season while the embattled striker netted his first premier league goal since April 1.
Between Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikk Mikitayarn missing sitters, Chelsea took advantage but the gunners fired back before halftime through the Armenian and iconic Nigeria youngster, Alex Iwobi. 2-2 and that was all the inspiration Unai Emery needed.
As inspiring as it was for Arsenal, the clear message wasn’t going to be erased easily. This is not the kind of start the club would desire. Not for the fans nor the new manager. As a matter of fact, not for any other club. Suffice is it to say that the gunners aren’t on the far side of the run of fixtures, at least for now.
From Kano to London, Arsenal fans seem to be exercising patience with Emery. While they expect a breakaway from the shackles of a 22-year spell, they are not in a hurry to crucify Unai Emery.
“It won’t be automatic to get Arsenal firing. It is a process, 22 years under one man cannot be erased in 90minutes. Patience.” says the tweet of @TheBlakkGenius, a renowned on-air personality in Kano, northern Nigeria.
However, what they think could be of advantage to their season, if not handled well could be disastrous. Truth is, having dropped these points from the opening fixtures, Arsenal cannot afford any more loss.
On the other hand, Chelsea didn’t hold anything back in their game plan. With the evolution of another brand of football, they were set up to fire from all cylinders as their midfield tandem dictated the pace.
The missing thing was a danger, as in more danger in the presence of Eden Hazard. The scoreline can’t be imagined if he was involved in the early proceedings when Chelsea dominated everything. The moment he came on in the second half, it was about him and his elusive rundowns.
His signature was all over Marcos Alonso’s late strike which compromised Arsenal’s fight and won the game for Chelsea. There could have been an icing on the cake if Giroud finished off what was the last kick of the game. Hazard was unselfish with his final pass, but the Frenchman failed to return the favour with a goal which would also count as an assist for the Belgian.
This is just one of the battles that will go down in London this season. Remember Tottenham Hotspurs on the other side have a claim while Chelsea and Arsenal hope to make it back into the top four.
West Ham United, Crystal Palace and returnees Fulham would be stubborn obstacles to their ambitions as well.
Chelsea has drawn the first blood at the bridge, but it was a performance that showed Arsenal can belief. At the same time, gunners faithful shouldn’t raise their hopes too high.