Chelsea’s Under-23s were beaten 4-1 by an Arsenal development side boasting plenty of first-team experience.
In an entertaining game at London Colney, the Blues’ youngsters were no match for the Gunners, who included the likes of Danny Welbeck, Carl Jenkinson, Rob Holding, Emiliano Martinez and promising midfielders Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Jeff Reine-Adelaide.
Holding – who played for Arsenal in Monday night’s FA Cup tie at Sutton – gave the home side the lead midway through the first half, nodding in from close range after a clever corner routine involving Maitland-Niles and Ben Sheaf.
The former Bolton centre-back then created the second, striding forward into Chelsea territory and feeding Donyell Malen, who took a touch before firing in a shot under the body of Blues keeper Jared Thompson.
Malen could have had another goal when he was given too much space in the box but his side-footed effort was cleared off the line by Dujon Sterling.
Chelsea had been restricted to half-chances in the first 45 minutes but were immediately on the front foot after the break, with Todd Kane mistiming a volley across goal and Mason Mount forcing a good save from Martinez.
However, Reiss Nelson was more clinical at the other end, making it 3-0 when he got on the end of Malen’s low cross from the right.
Chelsea did pull a goal back as Charly Musonda showed good feet in the Arsenal half before producing a save from Martinez, with Ike Ugbo netting the rebound.
But the influential Malen continued to trouble the Blues defence and when he was hauled down in the box by Ruben Sammut, Welbeck converted the penalty.