By Paul Lagan at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea 2 v Arsenal 4
Chelsea were dispatched relatively easily by a workmanlike Arsenal 4-2 at Stamford Bridge tonight.
A host of defensive errors saw the North Londoners take the lead three times before a penalty in added time by man of the match Bukayo Saka gave Arsenal clear daylight, three points and a share of fourth place in the Premier League.
Only goal difference keeps Spurs at bay.
For Chelsea’s part, the claim that this was a game to far after recent exertions, might have a sense of truth about it, but the fact is they made horrendous errors at the back and were punished accordingly.
Arsenal cannot get away without an equal share of criticism for naive defending, but they made fewer and that was a truer reflection of an otherwise low quality London derby.
Six goals would suggest excitement and thrills, but actually, it was a case of who was going to make another crucial error.
Recce James overhit his free-kick but it was dipping late and Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale had to finger-tip the effort over the crossbar.
From the resultant corner on six minutes, the ball fell to Marcus Alonso, but his left-footed effort smashed into the side-netting.
Arsenal’s first foray up front almost saw Gabriel Magalhaes score, but his left-footed byline shot was blocked by Edouard Mendy.
A Romelu Lukaku shot from the edge of the Arsenal penalty area, went cross Ramsdale and wide of his goal.
But the visitors were gifted a goal on 13 minutes when centre-back Andreas Christensen shanked a simple back pass and Eddie Nketiah nipped in, and easily slotted the ball past out-running Mendy and nestle the ball into the back of his net.
The lead lasted five minutes. Ruben Loftus-Cheek won possession of the ball and passed to Timo Werner.
The German striker cut in from the left to the edge of the penalty area and tried a regulation low, right-footer.
The ball took a nick off Granit Xhaka’s shin, lifted slightly, but enough to fool Ramsdale who was left helpless and the ball zipped between him and his right post
The shambolic defending that saw Arsenal take the initial lead returned to restore the one-goal margin on 28 minutes.
Chelsea somehow failed to take advantage of terrible defending at the Arsenal end, and the ball was easily zipped up forward. The ever impressive Saka ruled the right wing all night and slide the ball to the edge of the Chelsea area, where it was knocked on to Emile Smith Rowe, who caressed the ball wide of Mendy and into his far corner of the net.
That lead lasted only two minutes. Mason Mount took advantaged of sloppy play by Ben White on the left of the Arsenal area. The midfielder powered a low ball into the six-yard box, where skipper Cesar Azpilicueta was first to react and he skilfully guided a glancing shot past Ramsdale.
Smith Rowe should have scored with a minute of the half left. He jinked past a couple of defenders before inching a firm right-footer wide of Mendy’s left post.
There were no changes by Arsenal at half-time, but in an attempt to shore up his leaky defence, head coach Thomas Tuchel showed his ruthless side and on came Thiago Silva for Christensen.
The game resumed in the fashion of the first half, with neither side dominating possession.
But the shambles of defending simply would not cease.
For the third time, on 57 minutes. Arsenal took the lead. Azpilicueta gave the ball away in midfield, the ball was fed to Nketiah in the Chelsea area, who first lost the ball to a Silva touch, then Sarr touched it back into his path, he then knocked it past N’Golo Kante, before toe-poking the ball past Mendy.
Tuchel had seen enough of misfiring Lukaku and replaced him with Kai Havertz.
Ramsdale made an instinctive save to thwart yet another home side equaliser, when he blocked a Reece James shot, Alonso followed up but his effort was kicked away by White.
But Chelsea were a shadow of the side that beat Real Madrid and reached the FA Cup final at the weekend.
And with a minute left, Arsenal got a penalty when Azpilicueta pulled over Saka in his area.
Up stepped to send Mendy the wrong way and give Arsenal their justified two-goal margin.
The Blues are back at home on Sunday when they face West Ham United, while Arsenal entertain Manchester United at the Emirates.
Teams: Chelsea, Mendy, Alonso, Christensen, Kante, Lukaku, Werner, Loftus-Cheek, Mount, James, Azpilicueta, Sarr
Subs: Kepa, Jorginho, Silva, Pulisic, Chalobah, Saul, Barkley, Ziyech, Havertz
Arsenal: Ramsdale, White, Magalhaes, Saka, Odegaard, Smith Rowe, Holding, Tavares, Elneny, Nketiah, Xhaka
Leno, Lacazette, Soares, Pepe, Lokonga, Martinelli, Azeez, Swanson, Hutchinson
Referee: Jonathan Moss