Goals from Alex Lacazette and Laurent Koscielny sealed a fine victory at Emirates Stadium that puts us within touching distance of Chelsea in the race for a top-four place.
We flew out of the traps, snapping into tackles and pulling the visitors around as we looked to take advantage of any early vulnerabilities.
Within four minutes, Lacazette sent a fine ball across goal that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sliced wide and not long afterwards a short corner caught Chelsea out, with Sokratis heading wide from close range.
After last week’s disappointment at the London Stadium, this was much more like it and the crowd responded to the effort they were seeing from their team, raising the noise levels as we continued to press.
The outstanding Koscielny was next to go close, connecting with a Lucas Torreira free kick from the left but seeing his header brilliantly pushed over the bar by Kepa Arrizbalaga.
But less than 60 seconds later, our dominance was rewarded as Hector Bellerin found Lacazette in the area, whose sublime first touch set him up, before he took the ball away from the defender and squeezed his drive into the top corner.
Chelsea were struggling to contain us, and Aubameyang was next to go close before the visitors enjoyed a spell of pressure – with Pedro going closest to equalising.
Aubameyang was inches away from doubling our advantage with a stunning overhead kick, but Koscielny made no mistake moments later as he rose highest to meet Sokratis ball into the box, diverting the ball into the net via his shoulder.
Marcos Alonso would hit the post before the end of the half, but we held firm and would have to do a lot more defending after the restart as Maurizio Sarri’s side pushed for a way back into the game.
But we continued to threaten ourselves on the break, with Sead Kolasinac and Hector Bellerin creating havoc from the full-back positions. But the latter would soon depart on a stretcher in obvious discomfort after sustaining a worrying looking injury – fingers crossed it is not as serious as it appeared to be.
The Blues continued to pile on the pressure, but we stood firm – with Sokratis and Koscielny positively relishing the battle – and finally, after a lengthy spell of added time, we had the win.
Game on in the race for the top four.
HOW IT HAPPENED
See how the match unfolded with our play-by-play commentary.
WHAT IT MEANS
This result moves us to with three points of fourth-placed Chelsea, with Manchester United trailing us on goal difference.
We’re back in Emirates FA Cup action on Friday night when Manchester United visit Emirates Stadium in the fourth round.
We last faced the Red Devils in the competition back in 2015, when Danny Welbeck scored the winner against his former club as we won 2-1 at Old Trafford.
Copyright 2021 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.