Despite rumours Laurent Koscielny could be rushed back into the starting line-up following positive progress on his knee injury, Arsene Wenger elected to go without the Frenchman.
And with good reason, after all his captain has been sitting on the bench waiting for his chance, and Thomas Vermaelen was determined not to let it slide.
It was only Vermaelen's second Premier League start of the season, the first coming in the 1-0 loss at Manchester United, and he appeared comfortable alongside Per Mertesacker in defence.
The 28-year-old is a vital member of Arsenal's squad in the push for trophies and as Koscielny's knock showed he is just one unfortunate moment away from getting a run in the first team.
What he has to do is seize his chances and give Arsene Wenger a real selection headache, and display the impressive form he did when he first joined The Gunners.
He was calm in possession against Chelsea, completing 98 per cent of his passes, including five out of five long balls.
Vermaelen also made two successful tackles, and four interceptions - teammate Mertesacker didn't make a single interception.
The captain also made a team high 13 successful clearances, although one criticism can be that he won just one aerial duel while opponent Fernando Torres won seven.
Whoscored.com rated Vermaelen as Arsenal's most impressive performer, with Arsene Wenger shown that there certainly was no reason to rush Koscielny back.
With Vermaelen back into the first team as a starter for the first time since early November we took to Twitter to see what Arsenal fans were saying about him...
Positives for me tonight: Vermaelen looked solid along with the defence in general, no injuries, AW managed to zip his jacket. #AFC— Fredrik Karbin (@Fkarbin) December 23, 2013
Tonight did prove that Thomas Vermaelen is an excellent player to have as a third CB. Thought he did well tonight #afc— Sam Limbert (@SamsMatchReport) December 23, 2013
Not quite convinced by Vermaelen's positioning & forays upfield. Was from 1 of those that Lampard took the shot that hit the crossbar. #AFC— GunnerDoYou (@GunnerDoYou) December 24, 2013
Credit to Vermaelen. Came in and played very well. Good to see! #afc— SeanAFC (@GoonersOnline) December 24, 2013
Vermaelen again was very solid today, thats the quality of having a good backup hope we don't lose him #afc— Jk (@jkfooty) December 23, 2013
Vermaelen was good. Did exactly what Koscielny has been doing all the time. Sweeping up attacks in advance. #AFC— Ronak Gothi (@RonakGothi) December 23, 2013
image: © Ronnie Macdonald