Chelsea missed the opportunity to strengthen their place in the top four as Emile Smith Rowe’s second Premier League goal in as many games gave Arsenal victory.
The game’s only goal came in the first half courtesy of a terrible mistake by Jorginho. The midfielder misjudged a pass back that was in danger of tricking over the line before Kepa Arrizabalaga managed to clawed the ball away but only to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who teed up Smith Rowe to slot in.
Chelsea dominated from then on as Mason Mount twice went close, seeing a volley inside the box blocked before the England international drew a good save out of Bernd Leno.
Christian Pulisic thought he had equalised on the hour but his strike was ruled out by the video assistant referee for offside, while substitute Olivier Giroud should have done better but swung wildly at his shot after a mistake by Mohamed Elneny.
The hosts then twice went agonisingly close to rescuing a point in stoppage time as Leno pushed Kurt Zouma’s header onto the bar before Giroud’s volley also bounced back off the woodwork, but Arsenal held on to take the three points.
The victory also meant the Gunners completed the double over the Blues for the first time in 17 years to boost their own hopes of ensuring they are playing European football next season.
Chelsea remain fourth on 64 points, six ahead of West Ham and seven ahead of Liverpool, who have two games in hand on Thomas Tuchel’s side.
Arsenal, meanwhile, are eighth and just one point behind Tottenham in seventh, although have played a game more.
Off day for Chelsea gives hope to chasing pack
Chelsea have been hugely impressive under Tuchel and, while the immediate goal is getting the points required to cement a top-four finish this season, the signs are good that they should be title challengers next term.
The two-legged win against Real Madrid in the semi-final of the Champions League highlighted how difficult a side they are to beat but this game also showed that they can sometimes be their own worst enemy.
Jorginho’s mistakes, when he attempted a blind pass back to Kepa, was the eighth time the Blues have made errors leading to opposition goals in the Premier League this season, a number surpassed only by Liverpool (nine) and Chelsea’s most in a single league campaign since 2015-16.
Despite that Chelsea had plenty of opportunities to get a result but were wasteful in front of goal. Kai Havertz should have scored before Smith Rowe’s opener but blazed over when one-on-one while Giroud also had a good chance to equalise in the second half.
Chelsea may have had half a mind on Saturday’s FA Cup final against Leicester and they are still in a great position to finish in the top four but the defeat – only their third under Tuchel – will give hope to the chasing pack.
Liverpool’s next two games are away to Manchester United and relegated West Brom and if they are to win those they would only be a point behind Chelsea with two games remaining.