Arsenal hasn’t got the chance to have a good old laugh at Chelsea since the Invincible were in their prime.
But, after three straight defeats and with a center-forward who hadn’t scored a Premier League goal in over a year, this was a night to remember for the Gunners.
They gloated over the empty seats and boardroom at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea’s clumsy defending was mocked by the crowd.
They were ecstatic when Eddie Nketiah hit a game-winning double, twice exploiting a side of European champions who chose to defend in clown’s shoes.
As a result, Arsenal and Tottenham are level on points in the hunt for the final Champions League spot.
The North London derby, which takes place just ten days before the season ends, promises to be the most important in years.
Those dreadful defeats to Crystal Palace, Brighton, and Southampton appeared to have thrown Mikel Arteta’s hapless team completely off course.
They were given a way back into the mix here, in a wonderfully wide-open derby.
Arsenal launched a determined and quick attack. They also did a good job defending in the second half.
Despite this, it was clear that Arteta’s team had been given three of their four goals.
Chelsea lost their third game in a row at home, conceding 11 goals in the process.
While Liverpool’s opponents have an FA Cup final to look forward to next month, you can bet they’ll fancy their chances of ripping into this rabble.
As the anti-Putin sanctions bit after Roman Abramovich’s departure, there were roughly 9,000 empty seats – but those casual Chelsea fans who might have booked tickets will have thought they dodged a bullet.
Arsenal fans ate it up, exclaiming, “Just like the old days, there’s nobody here.”
Just like when Abramovich arrived, when the Gunners could boast of being London’s top team.
Despite the fact that the game was crucial for Arsenal, it had a carefree, end-to-end end-of-season vibe to it from the start.
It was as if you were watching a group of friends make the most of the longer evenings. It wouldn’t have been out of place if someone had declared ‘rush goalie’ or ‘knockout Wembley.’
We could tell it wasn’t vital to Chelsea – who are practically likely to finish no higher or lower than third – as soon as the squad sheets were released, because Tuchel granted Romelu Lukaku his first Premier League start since February.
After Wembley hero Ruben Loftus-Cheek had rumbled forward and unleashed him, the huge Belgian blasted wide across goal.
Then there were the games – four goals in 19 minutes.
Andreas Christensen kicked off the celebrations with a back-pass that allowed Eddie Nketiah to slip in and put past Edouard Mendy for his first Premier League goal in over a year.
Arsenal’s lead lasted only a few minutes after Loftus-Cheek won control and fed Timo Werner, whose effort took a horrible deflection off Granit Xhaka’s heel, leaving Aaron Ramsdale helpless.
Then came a second Arsenal goal, the kind Arsene Wenger used to dream about.
On the edge of the box, Xhaka started it all off with some Fred Astaire movement. Smith Rowe tucked it into the corner of the net with a bedtime story after Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard collaborated at the acute end.
Chelsea replied quickly once more, with Mason Mount gaining possession, kippering Mo Elneny, and curling in a low central that Azpilicueta stabbed in at the near post.
Smith Rowe wriggled away despite being surrounded by four guys, but his shot was narrowly missed.
Everything was in a pleasingly chaotic state. At times, the defending is non-existent. This is hardly the type of contest that elite coaches like, but it was fine as light entertainment for the masses.
Tuchel replied by substituting Thiago Silva for the woeful Christensen at halftime, but Chelsea’s defending only got worse.
Nketiah was set up by Azpilicueta’s sloppy pass to Arsenal full-back Nuno Tavares.
Thiago, N’Golo Kante, and Malang Starr swarmed the young striker, who made a pig’s ear of clearing the ball, giving Nketiah three chances before drilling into the net.
Tuchel, apparently enraged, dragged Lukaku off to a chorus of boos intended at the striker rather than the decision to remove him, and replaced him with Kai Havertz.
Arsenal looked sturdy and poised in general, with Ramsdale spilling a Reece James shot that was scrambled clear.
Then, in the 90th minute, Azpilicueta came up with another brilliant idea, wrestling Saka off the ball.
Ref Jon Moss pointed to the location, and Saka slammed it home before joining in the celebrations with the Gooners, who laughed their way back across town.