Chelsea’s remit was superbly executed against the Gunners in the first 45 minutes of the Chelsea Vs Arsenal contest at Stamford Bridge. They chased everything and virtually suffocated Arsenal, rushing them into a series of mistimed or poorly placed passes which saw them only briefly wander over the halfway. Arsenal aren’t good with this type of pressure and these soppy looking balls played across the defence looked like an accident waiting to happen.
Mustafi received a ball that had Abraham breathing down the German’s neck (28) so he turned it back to Leno. The trouble was the ball was slow and short, allowing Abraham to capitalise by racing into the box with the Arsenal keeper stranded. Luiz, who had looked promising, raced in and physically upended the striker for an immediate red card.
There were no complaints really, it was an obvious offence but Luiz would have been better letting him steer the ball in and then seeing what Arsenal could offer in reply. As for Mustafi, it’s just another mistake from his repertoire of horrifying howlers.
One wonders how he ever won a World Cup in the form he’s shown since his move to the Emirates in 2015. He redeemed himself for the remainder of the Chelsea Vs Arsenal match, even taking a ball in the fatherhood zone and for once, I felt for him.
10 men away from home and 1-0 down was going to be a big ask with Chelsea appearing to relish the prospect of an even weaker Arsenal defence. Before the Chelsea Vs Arsenal match, I felt an Arsenal win was on the cards but with half time looming, I was craving another trademark draw. If you are a travelling fan from around the world looking to attend an Arsenal home or away game you can click here to check out currency conversion or forex rates before making the trip.
A three match ban for Luiz makes Arteta’s defensive problems ten times worse and at half time, one imagined Mustafi receiving a few choice words from the Spanish coach who looked a frustrated figure as he headed to the tunnel.
Looking at the table at this point was deeply depressing with only six points separating Arsenal from 19th position in the Premier League, currently inhabited by Watford. This was going to be a long and draining evening by any standard.
Arsenal were again under siege from the whistle for the second half and the gunners were in need of a sizeable piece of luck or a moment of individual brilliance against the run of play, either would do. As so often happens with a sending off, Chelsea struggled to make the advantage count, with Arsenal managing to show determination to keep them out but also to get forward. It wasn’t over yet.
Holding was the obvious choice to come on but Ozil made way for the more battle hungry Guendouzi (55) and for a moment, it appeared that Arteta missed having someone with shaggy locks on the pitch.
Much has been made about Aubameyang’s absence but if you had to have a stand in, Martinelli is the best you could hope for. Both Pepe and Martinelli looked good together against Sheffield and they were in the thick of the only Arsenal attack of any meaning in the match (64).
A quick break saw Martinelli bomb forward, Kante slipped back peddling, leaving the Brazilian to pillage the Chelsea goal. The Arsenal fans who had been as quiet as a coach full of mourners came to life, rejoicing at the strike from a potential future club legend.
Surprisingly, Chelsea ran out of steam briefly before Lacazette thought he’d got off the mark for the first time in seven appearances but he was the length of a shopping trolley offside.(72)
With both sides feeling the pressure, it seemed as if the game might boil over, with some spicy knocks and pent up frustrations taking a firm hold. The Chelsea crowd booed and hissed at anything that didn’t look like a goal for the home side or three points.
It was now down to concentration and application for Arsenal to gain a point rather than lose all three but it made nervous viewing, not for the first time this season. I was feeling exhausted but I wasn’t prepared for what happened next…Arteta made a substitution aimed at holding on to the point. Arsenal fans would have to go back to the days of gorgeous George to experience that level of common sense and with ten minutes left, Holding came on for Pepe.
However it didn’t work, Cesar Azpilicueta got a touch from the corner (84) zipping ahead of Mustafi and slotting it past Leno. Chelsea have had a habit of stealing from Arteta and Arsenal and it appeared to be no different in this Chelsea Vs Arsenal game.
Arsenal had been heroic and deserved more for their determination and they got it from Hector Bellerin (87) who hit a left footed screamer into the corner of the Chelsea net. The Arsenal bench exploded.
You can say what you like about Arteta but he is putting together a team that won’t roll over. Wenger and Emery’s Arsenal would probably have been 4-0 down by the final whistle with their heads down and chins on the floor, but this was an exceptional performance in many ways.
The performance would have been better with a full compliment of personnel but in the plus column, Martinelli looked like the type of striker that surfaces very occasionally, with the undeniable potential to become world class. Leno was also crucial to this result with a number of instinctive saves that prevented Arsenal going further behind.
Yet each player stood firm and put in a shift in the Chelsea Vs Arsenal game. They gave a solid performance to prevent an almost inevitable defeat whilst giving hope that Arsenal can still climb up the table and away from danger.
The best performance of the season so far.