Arsenal and Chelsea faced off in a closely fought pre-season friendly. Chelsea eventually emerged victors by a 1-2 margin, with Tammy Abraham scoring the winner.
Pre-season friendlies are usually used to gain match fitness. But this match was important to both teams and their managers on other fronts. Arsenal and Chelsea are still looking to do business in the transfer market. This match gave both Thomas Tuchel and Mikel Arteta a good opportunity to decide the players they want to keep at their clubs for this season.
Chelsea are rumored to be close to signing Jules Koundé whereas Arsenal have recently signed Ben White to strengthen their defense. However, there are a lot of players on both sides who were looking to impress their respective managers. This was visible in the intensity at which the game was played, with a number of rash and crunchy challenges throughout the game.
Arsenal dominated the early proceedings, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Thomas Partey both making their marks on the game. However, the Blues made their way back into the game once Partey went off injured, with their midfield gaining a stronger grip on proceedings.
Kai Havertz and Timo Werner were both playing their first game since coming back from their vacations. The Germans combined to open the scoring. Havertz finished brilliantly to score the first goal of the game after Werner played him through on goal following a swift counter attack.
Granit Xhaka scored the equalizer with a lovely header off a corner. Both teams had chances to score more goals but failed to take their chances. Hakim Ziyech hit the goal post for Chelsea, whereas Joe Willock hit the inside part of the crossbar. Willock's shot crossed the goal line after hitting the bar, but the lack of goalline technology in club friendlies meant the goal wasn't given.
The Blues ended up taking the lead again soon afterwards. Héctor Bellerín, who had come on a few minutes ago, gift-wrapped a goal for Abraham. The Chelsea striker took advantage of the mistake and scored to put his side ahead again.
Both managers made a number of changes throughout the game to use different combinations. Chelsea saw off the rest of the game to win the friendly derby.
On that note, let's look at the five hits and flops from either team in the game.
#5 Hit: Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea)
Ruben Loftus-Cheek is a man on a mission. The midfielder was on the rise under Maurizio Sarri more than two years ago before suffering an Achilles injury which completely halted his ascent.
The Chelsea academy graduate had an under-whelming loan at Fulham last season. He looked slow and the explosiveness from his game was missing. However, Loftus-Cheek looked to be getting back to his best against Arsenal.
The midfielder looked elegant and made some wonderful driving runs which showed that his confidence in his body is back. However, Loftus-Cheek did give the ball away at times, which showed that he needs to work a bit more to reach his pre-injury form.
The 25-year-old explained in an interview a few days ago that he is feeling strong again and it has been reported that Thomas Tuchel likes the midfielder. Chelsea's midfield was criticized for a lack of creativity last season. Ruben Loftus-Cheek can add that creative spark at the center of the pitch. This could be a make-or-break season for the academy graduate.
#4 Flop: Tammy Abraham (Chelsea)
Since the arrival of Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea, Tammy Abraham has struggled to get playing time. The striker has been linked with moves to different clubs while the Blues have been linked to the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Erling Haaland.
The striker scored the goal which proved to be the match-winner against Arsenal but his performance left many scratching their heads. Abraham spurned a number of other good chances which should have been put away. There is no denying the talent the Englishman possesses. However, there has always been doubt over whether he is good enough for Chelsea.
Chelsea's search for a new striker seems to be hitting a dead end, which may at least see Abraham staying at the club for another season at least. However, he will have to do much better going forward to earn the trust of his manager.