Manger Arsene Wenger, celebrating his 20th anniversary in charge of the Gunners, was heading into his first meeting with Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, and he would have enjoyed the way his side began the game.
Arsenal blow Chelsea away in the first half
Straight from the start, Chelsea showed their game plan was sit back and let Arsenal have the ball in front of them, but within ten minutes their defence had been breached.
Alexis Sanchez stole the ball from Gary Cahill just inside the Chelsea half with no covering defender. The Chilean carried the ball unchallenged to penalty area with only Thibaut Courtois to beat, and chipped the ball over the onrushing keeper to give Arsenal an early advantage.
And before Chelsea could get themselves set, Arsenal doubled their lead after 14 minutes. After lovely one touch build up, Alex Iwobi lifted his head and found Hector Bellerin in aches of space on the right hand side of the penalty area. The right back slipped the ball back across goal to Walcott who tucked the ball home into an empty net. Chelsea were stunned.
Arsenal’s pressing was intense and well timed, and it wasn't until the 20th minute when Chelsea got their first sight of goal, as Willian dragged a wide shot passed the post after great work from Eden Hazard.
Hazard strugges as Chelsea are penned back
It has been a difficult start for Hazard, who failed to track back with both Bellerin and Walcott in the build up to both goals. In contrast, Walcott was tracking his Chelsea counterpart excellently again and again, something not alway associated with the England winger.
Despite his sides poor start, Diego Costa was the blues best player so far, holding the ball up well when he got the service, but Arsenal centre backs Laurent Koscielny and Shkrodran Mustafi were both handling the striker's physical style well, limiting his influence in front of goal.
The next excellent piece of play was created by the home side, as David Luiz received a yellow card for tripping Iwobi after and excellent one-two on the edge of the Blues penalty box.
Everything was going perfectly for the gunners, until Francis Coquelin’s forceful tackle on Ngolo Kante after half an hour resulted in the Frenchman being replaced by summer signing Granit Xhaka.
This change did not disrupt the flow of this Arsenal team, and they made it three nil with another excellent goal with five minutes left in the half.
Mesut Ozil turned Kante beautiful midway inside the Arsenal half, and found himself in a 2v2 situation with Sanchez against the chelsea centre backs. After receiving the ball from Ozil, Sanchez lifted a beautiful pass to Ozil at the back post, and his bouncing volley beat Courtois.
Second half cruised through
Both teams returned for the second half with the same line ups, but the flow of the game didn’t change. Arsenal were still able to open up the visitors, and when Walcott was played in again unchallenged, the winger's resulting cross was too high for Sanchez and Chelsea cleared.
The home side looked so confident, and could have been four goals to the good had they not overcomplicated an attack which led to Xhaka’s 20-yard shot being easily blocked.
Chelsea attempted to stop Arsenal’s dominance by switching from a back four to a back three, with Marcos Alonso replacing Cecs Fabregas, who endured a disappointing return to his former club.
And although Chelsea started to see more of the ball, they were only able to take long shots at Petr Cech’s goal.
Kieran Gibbs came on for Arsenal to make them even harder to breakdown, and Conte’s last two changes saw Willian and Hazard replaced by Pedro and Michy Batshuayi, with Pedro almost had an immediate affect.
The Blues first clear opening of the second period came after a mix up between Mustafi and Koscielny allowed substitute Pedro to charge in on goal, but an great recovery run from Bellerin brought the attack to an end.
Batshuayi also had a run in on goal, but Cech was equal to his shot by saving with his leg.
Olivier Giroud replaced Sanchez and had a chance to make it four, but his near post flick went round the post.
From then on, Arsenal saw the game out, and sealed a dominate victory to celebrate Wenger’s 20th anniversary in charge of the club in style.
Arsenal turn up on the big occasion
Arsenal have been accused in the past of failing to stand up and fight against their big rivals in the Premier League, but their was no evidence of this tonight. Defensively they stood up to the test of Costa, Hazard and Willian without any real trouble, and offensively they cut through Chelsea with some beautiful passing and movement.
Chelsea still adjusting to life under Conte
In contrast to their rivals, Chelsea struggled defensively and were unable to stamp their authority on the game. Even though Diego Costa continued to act as a focal point, they couldn’t knock Arsenal off their stride. After switching to three at the back, they began to see more of the ball, but were unable to create any glaring chances.