Chelsea 2-2 Arsenal: Spirited 10-man Arsenal side claim unlikely point at the Bridge
By Daniel FInton
Arsenal have notoriously struggled at Stamford Bridge and it’d be fair to suggest that confidence of getting a result last night going into the fixture was very low. Mikel Arteta’s men suffered their eleventh draw of the season on Saturday, at home to Sheffield United. Though on paper, the match against the Blades was destined to be tricky, the manner in which drew, conceding in the 83rd minute, rubbed salt into the already exposed wounds of Arsenal fans.
Following up that physically testing encounter was a game away at a top six side- not exactly what Arteta would’ve wanted. Despite performances improving under the Spaniard, results have not followed suit at all. Nothing but a win was acceptable given the dreadful previous weeks and months for the club.
A win was unfortunately not possible for Arteta’s men, although they did manage their twelfth draw of the season. But given the context of the game, one point being taken was an absolute coup.
Arteta named a largely unchanged side from Saturday, with long-term absentee Hector Bellerin’s return the only surprising alteration.
The plan was simple, take control, play with a compact shape t and be confident on the ball. Do not shoot ourselves in the foot like we do ever so frequently.
Chelsea dominated the opening twenty minutes and the only genuine attacking threat that seemed at all dangerous to their defence was that of Nicolas Pepe making driving runs.
Unfortunately, Pepe’s efforts were rewarded with a completely inexcusable display of ignorance from the former Chelsea man, David Luiz, and an inevitable error from Shkodran Mustafi. Tammy Abraham eased past an indecisive Bernd Leno and was violently brought down my Luiz resulting in a deserved red card for the Brazilian defender. Jorginho was the one to take the penalty and converted, tucking it perfectly into Leno’s left side netting.
On occasion, the gunners had some chances from counter attacks, but in all honesty, Arteta’s men struggled to be decisive in the final third without the extra offensive man. The first half came to a close with the blues 1-0 up, registering nine shots compared to Arsenal’s zero. The Gunners have not had a shotless half since May 2015.
Despite the pretty unconvincing first half, the second half was far more fruitful for the gunners and it saw the Gunners stun the blues in their own backyard.
Gabriel Martinelli scored his third Premier league goal of the season, taking advantage of a catastrophic error from N’golo Kante. The 18-year-old took advantage of a clumsy slip from the World Cup winner and slotted a cool finish past Kepa.
Arsenal then attained a better deal of confidence on the ball and looked the more likely team to score a second. However, a quick set piece routine from a corner saw Chelsea’s captain, Cesar Azpilicueta, give his side the lead.
The match seemed to be out of reach for the gunners. They needed a win on the day and instead they were going to lose. At least that’s how it seemed.
Captain Bellerin had something to say about that. The newly returned, handsome vegan scored an absolute cracker (a vegan one that is) and stole his side a draw.
The match was an intense one to say the least, and we were lucky to have snatched a draw on the day.
Arsenal remain tenth in the table, but it could have been worse if the late draw was not salvaged.
We travel to Bournemouth this Sunday and see the next league game, also away from home one week later. Once again, a win is obviously the priority in both fixtures, although draws are becoming somewhat of a normality now.