Arsenal’s win at Chelsea was therapeutic for those misfiring strikers except Romelu Lukaku


MATT BARLOW: Eddie Nketiah has been giving off vibes since December that he deserves more opportunities at Arsenal… at Stamford Bridge he threw off the shackles on a bonkers night

  • Arsenal and Chelsea were wide open as if having a bit of end-of-season fun
  • Eddie Nketiah received timely therapy from Andreas Christensen’s back pass 
  • Chelsea’s general air of carelessness contrived to gift him a second of the night
  • Timo Werner from nowhere, has discovered a rich seam of brilliant form
  • Romelu Lukaku’s touches were rare and wait for a Premier League goal goes on

Quite a night it proved to be at the London home for misfiring strikers.

The bunting was up, the party hats circulated and someone, it seemed, had been meddling with the meds.

First up, there was Andreas Christensen dispensing a little timely therapy for Eddie Nketiah by the way of a feebly underpowered back pass.

Eddie Nketiah has been giving off vibes since December he is ready for more action after netting his first goals for a year

Chelsea's general air of carelessness contrived to gift him a second of the night to put Arsenal 3-2 up

Chelsea’s general air of carelessness contrived to gift him a second of the night to put Arsenal 3-2 up

Nketiah was suffering without a Premier League goal for more than a year. He did score three in the Carabao Cup against third tier Sunderland back in December and has been giving off vibes ever since to suggest he figured this entitled him to more opportunities.

But he couldn’t fight his way past Alexandre Lacazette, who has to dig back deeper into December to recall the last time he found the net from open play but had tucked away a couple of penalties more recently.

Nketiah finished this chance clinically and Christensen didn’t make it back out for the second half, but Chelsea’s general air of carelessness contrived to gift him a second of the night to put Arsenal 3-2 up.

Then there was Timo Werner who, from nowhere, has discovered a rich seam of brilliant form having spent the best part of two seasons looking entirely lost, as though his memory had been erased upon arrival.

Then there was Timo Werner who, from nowhere, has discovered a rich seam of brilliant form

Then there was Timo Werner who, from nowhere, has discovered a rich seam of brilliant form

Werner darted in-field and fizzed in an equaliser with the help of Granit Xhaka, who turned his back and deflected the shot, sending it spinning in slow-motion past Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale at his near post. Werner’s Premier League account for the season stretched to four.

Lacazette who was available after a Covid-enforced absence but not ready to start must have looked on with envy from his seat on the bench. 

Briefly, Mikel Arteta appeared ready to hurry him on to take the penalty in stoppage time but that went to Bukayo Saka, who converted his first penalty since his miss in the final of Euro 2020.

This was a therapeutic night for those burdened with the expectation of scoring goals. Both teams wide open and vulnerable as if having a bit of end-of-season fun. 

Bukayo Saka converted his first penalty since his miss for England in the final of Euro 2020

Bukayo Saka converted his first penalty since his miss for England in the final of Euro 2020

Chelsea have gone from mean and miserly to conceding 11 goals in three games at home. There were chances galore. Crosses fizzed across the face of goal and shots peppered the goals.

Arsenal went from a ridiculous scene of confusion in their own penalty area, out of defence and into a sweeping counter-attack completed by a sublime goal from Emile Smith Rowe, who certainly does know how to finish and yet this was only his second since Boxing Day.

After watching two goals in the previous five games, those fans in the away end drank it in, taunting Chelsea with songs about their new financial peril and inability to sell tickets due to the terms of the licence under which they operate as the club is sold. ‘Just like the old days there’s nobody here,’ they crowed from the Shed End as the goals flew in.

What madcap fun for all. Well, all except for Romelu Lukaku for whom not even the sight of Arsenal on a night when defending went out of fashion could jolt him back into the groove. His touches were rare and his wait for a Premier League goal goes on.

But touches for Romelu Lukaku were rare and his wait for a Premier League goal goes on

But touches for Romelu Lukaku were rare and his wait for a Premier League goal goes on

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