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Chelsea 2-2 Arsenal: 10-Man Gunners Salvage Draw at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea Arsenal

Martinelli breezing past Kante

Match Report Match Highlights Post-Match Press Conference

Final Result: Chelsea 2-2 Arsenal

Goal Scorers: Chelsea (Jorginho 28′ pen, Azpilicueta 84′), Arsenal (Martinelli 64′, Bellerin 87′)

Arsenal XI (Subs) (4-2-3-1): Leno; Bellerin, D. Luiz, Mustafi, Saka; Xhaka, Torreira; Martinelli, Ozil, Pepe; Lacazette

With the games coming thick and fast, there was no time to sulk over the draw against Sheffield United last weekend, as the Gunners arrived at Stamford Bridge, 10 points behind the inconsistent Chelsea. Both teams were in a poor vein of form and someone joked that it was the kind of game that both of them could actually lose.

There was some concern around the inclusion of Shkodran Mustafi in the starting lineup for the second league match in a row, because with Mustafi, you would always expect a calamity as he is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode, and we got just that when the German defender gifted the ball to Tammy Abraham, putting his team on the lurch. David Luiz, that was jeered by the home crowd all game long, tried to cover his defense partner’s mess but a late tackle on the Chelsea forward that earned him his marching orders.

Jorginho stepped up and dispatched the penalty aplomb. 

As you’d expect from a team with a man down, Arsenal was on the back foot with Chelsea on the ascendancy but it’s worth noting that Granit Xhaka dropped deep as an auxiliary center back and became a colossus in defense. Against the run of play, Arsenal grabbed the equalizer when Gabriel Martinelli latched onto Mustafi’s headed clearance from a corner kick, made a 67-yard dash that coincided with a hilarious slip from N’Golo Kante before coming clean on goal and side footing the ball past Kepa Arrizabalaga in the Chelsea goal.

The game was delicately poised with all three points there for the taking, Chelsea must have thought that they had done enough for a victory when Cesar Azpilicueta guided the ball home from point blank range with all the Arsenal defenders ball watching, but Hector Bellerin salvaged a point for the away side when he showed great determination to swing a hopeful left footed effort that somehow found its way past Kepa. The away team didn’t care about the nature of the goal, but snapping a draw from the jaws of defeat when you’re 10 men down is very commendable.

Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta, spoke about the spirit and commitment from his team with their backs against the wall. Equalizing twice in an away ground with a deficit is no mean feat, and I am proud of the lads for the performance they put up.

All focus will be moved to the Bournemouth game in the FA Cup, as the Gunners will feature without their most improved defender, David Luiz, following his red card. No thanks to Mustafi.


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The Gunners Give Chelsea the Blues

Theo Walcott scores against Chelsea

Arsenal 3-0 Chelsea

Match Report Match HighlightsPost-Match Press Conference

With Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool earning victories in the game week, the onus was on Arsene Wenger’s men to keep up with the leading pack. After the faltering start to the campaign, the Gunners had gathered some momentum with wins over Watford, Hull and Southampton but their resolve was to be tested against a ‘big’ team in the form of Chelsea. The visitors had a bright start to the campaign with three wins from three but their away draw with Swansea was followed by a home loss to Liverpool, revealing the cracks in the defense.

Arsenal attacked their South West London neighbors right from the onset but they had to thank Gary Cahill for a defensive blunder that gifted them the opening goal. The English center back mistimed his intended pass to Thibaut Courtois that was anticipated by the effervescent Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean bore down on goal, waited for Courtois to commit himself, before chipping the ball over the hapless goalie to make it one nil to the Gunners.

Arsenal made a fast start to the game as Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring following a mistake by Chelsea's Gary Cahill

The fans were still basking in the euphoria of grabbing the lead but the team doubled their money when Mesut Ozil combined with Hector Bellerin that squared Theo Walcott for an easy tap in. On the day Wenger made his 20th anniversary, Sanchez scored in his 100th Arsenal game and Walcott scored on his 350th. These lads sure have a sense of occasion.

Conceding those two early goals opened Chelsea up and they did their bit to reduce the deficit but with a calamity like David Luiz in the defense, you would expect more gaping holes, and they were punished when Sanchez combined with Ozil to put the Gunners three up before halftime. Going 3-0 up against Chelsea is something that has not happened in a very long time and it sent the fans into delirium but there was a second half to look forward, and it was important for the lads to keep their concentration in check.

Up stepped Kieran Gibbs, who came up for Alex Iwobi and did his bit to protect Nacho Monreal with minimal fuss. There was a moment when Diego Costa was close to pulling the trigger but Gibbsy made a great interception. Sanchez looked spent and the boss brought on the bearded Olivier Giroud to wind down the clock but Petr Cech had to remain alert to parry a Michy Batshuayi shot late on. The team held on for a famous victory and you could see how it meant to them. Chelsea was one of those bogey teams that have made life quite uncomfortable for Wenger and it was wonderful.

The defending was virtuoso with the Kostafi combination keeping Diego Costa in their pocket for the entirety of the game. The calmness at the back was very welcome and I’m happy to see Bellerin and Monreal picking form too.

On the flip side, there is concern over the fitness of Francis Coquelin. Despite Granit Xhaka’s goalscoring exploits, Le Coq retained his place ahead of the Swiss big-money signing but succumbed to a knee injury and left the field in clutches. Sadly, Wenger also confirmed that it was the same knee he hurt last season, and I’m hoping he wouldn’t be out for a long time. Yes, there is depth in the forms of Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny but ‘Coqzorla’ had formed a formidable partnership in midfield.

All focus would be shifted to the Champions League encounter against FC Basel. More on that in the coming days.


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The Chelsea Hoodoo Continues…

Chelsea striker Diego Costa celebrates his 23rd-minute goal against Arsenal after poking a Branislav Ivanovic cross into the net

Arsenal 0 Chelsea 1 (Diego Costa 23′)

Match ReportMatch HighlightsPost-Match Press Conference 

With Leicester’s convincing win over Stoke City, the onus was on Arsenal to turn on the style against a Chelsea side that has been a thorn in their flesh for as long as I can remember. It’s surprising to know that the Gunners had not recorded a victory against the Blues since that bizarre Robin van Persie-inspired 5-3 win at Stamford Bridge. Since then it has either ended as a draw or Chelsea grabbing a win and shockingly, Arsenal has failed to score in their last six league encounters with Chelsea.

So with the Blues in bad form and the Gunners at home, it seemed like a really nice time to break the hoodoo, bearing in mind that a victory would also take Arsenal to the top of the table. I was quite surprised to see Theo Walcott leading the team then I learned that the club was honoring the Englishman for spending a decade – such class.

The game itself was a cagey affair but the moment that turned the game on its head arrived when Per Mertesacker’s lack of pace was exploited yet again as he scythed Diego Costa down and he was the last man, leaving the ref no choice but to brandish a red card.

Mark Clattenburg shows Per Mertesacker the red card after the Germany international hauled down Costa as he ran through on goal

The fact that Mertesacker was leaving the pitch wasn’t bad enough but the boss’ decision to sacrifice Olivier Giroud caused some bewilderment. Yes, he was rumored to have carried an ankle injury in the buildup to the game but losing the French forward was a big wrench because the Gunners lacked a focal point in attack. Deploying Walcott as the center forward was meant to be a good move but the forward couldn’t contend with Chelsea’s strong defense.

To add insult to injury, Chelsea grabbed the lead just five minutes after Mertesacker received his marching orders. A swift cross from Branislav Ivanovic was neglected by Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel was behind Diego Costa that fired the ball first time beyond Petr Cech. The Gunners huffed and puffed but the best chance of the half arrived when Aaron Ramsey dinked the ball over the Chelsea rearguard to Mathieu Flamini of all people. When the usage of the head would have been the best option, the Flam attempted a Shaolin-esque kick and looped the ball over the bar.

Flamini blazed the ball over the crossbar from close range, his effort proved to be the last kick of the first half at the Emirates Stadium

In the second half, the chances were few and far between with Cech making a handful of saves from some Chelsea attacks but there was some encouragement when Alexis Sanchez came on for Joel Campbell and the forward looked very sharp, making some insightful moves and working in tandem with Nacho Monreal to create some attacks from the left.

However, Chelsea held on as the Gunners lost all three points to Guus Hiddink’s side, easing their relegation woes but for the Gunners, they had lost some ground on the title race, as they are currently three points behind Leicester with a lesser goal difference as well. The Gunners will now be hoping for Liverpool to do them a favor next week Tuesday, while they get the chance to exert some revenge on Southampton but focus will be moved to the FA Cup, as Burnley comes to town on Saturday for the fourth round of the competition.

Even without Mourinho, the Gunners couldn’t still find a way past Chelsea and with more points dropped, their title credentials will be questioned again. However, there are 14 more games to be played and Arsene Wenger knows that his team is still in a very good position. The only problem is that Manchester City and Tottenham are gaining ground as they continue to pile up favorable results.

We have to move on and see how things pan out.


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