Arsenal continued their poor form against Chelsea on Sunday with another defeat as the Blues secured a vital 1-0 victory at the Emirates on Sunday.
Per Mertesacker received the marching order for denying Diego Costa a goalscoring opportunity in the 17th minute, and the Chelsea striker rubbed salt in Arsenal’s wounds by opening the scoring six minutes later -the only goal of the encounter.
There was a touch of class to admire just before kick-off, Theo Walcott taking the captain’s armband and leading the Arsenal side out to mark his 10th anniversary at the club.
Alexis was back in the squad but not back in the team as he had to settle for a place on the bench alongside new signing Mohamed Elneny. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was also among the substitutes, making way for the return of Mesut Ozil after he sat out the draw at Stoke City.
Arsenal had held their own in a frenetic opening to the game, but the odds were stacked against them with 10 men. Try as they might the Gunners could not find a precious equaliser – despite the welcome return of Alexis.
Defeat to the defending champions leaves Arsène Wenger’s title hopefuls three points adrift of leaders Leicester City and level on points with Manchester City.
Tottenham are a further two points adrift in this most compelling of Premier League campaigns, and Arsenal need to get back on track when they host Southampton on February 2.
Up next for the Gunners is a home tie against Burnley in the FA Cup next weekend while Chelsea are away to MK Dons in the same competition.