In a game between two of the most powerful clubs in Europe, there were two centre-forwards of world-class quality, and both of them were wearing red and white. With Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang working in tandem, Arsenal had a pair of attackers who provided a level of threat and dynamism which Chelsea, strikerless and blunt, were simply unable to match.
The signing of Gonzalo Higuain cannot come soon enough for Maurizio Sarri and Chelsea, who had more than enough quality in central areas to cause a sustained sense of worry at the Emirates for large spells here. They did not, though, have a Lacazette or an Aubameyang to make those moments count.
It would be an exaggeration to say that this made all the difference in a game that had plenty of dimensions, but it was certainly a major factor in a victory that will return some much-needed positivity to the Emirates after a difficult few weeks. In Lacazette and Aubameyang, Unai Emery had an old-fashioned strikeforce playing a very modern game. They took turns in darting behind the Chelsea defence, and then worked back to stop the visitors playing. A tackle here, a dribble there.
How Eden Hazard, marooned in a central position he does not enjoy, must have wished he could have been playing behind a pair of strikers as daring and energetic as Arsenal’s all-action duo. It was only with 20 minutes remaining that Sarri finally relented, sending Olivier Giroud into the fray and allowing Hazard to drift into more familiar territory on the wing.