It was an eventful outing on the sunny Sunday afternoon in London, as the showdown between Chelsea and Arsenal took place at Stamford Bridge in the first of two Premier League games lined up for the day. This is the second time in the on-going campaign that both sides are meeting; the last was a Community Shield defeat for the host.
Arsenal went into this game with so much at stake, following their recent horrors on this ground especially the 3-1 away defeat we suffered against Chelsea. A clean sheet hasn’t been kept against Chelsea at the bridge since 2005; therefore, a stellar performance must be needed to break the record.
Though the match ended in a goalless draw, it’d be one to be remembered as opposed their performance against Liverpool. Wenger made a couple of changes to his side that played in the Europa on Thursday, and there were key surprising omissions from the starting lineup.
Wenger fielded Petr Cech, Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi, Nacho Monreal, Hector Bellerin, Sead Kolasinac, Granit Xhaka, Aaron Ramsey, Danny Welbeck, Alex Iwobi and Alexandre Lacazette, to face the champions who had Thibaut Courtois, Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Garry Cahill, Victor Moses, N’Golo Kante, Cesc Fabregas, Marcos Alonso, Willian, Alvaro Morata and Pedro all starting.
As always, the host started the sharpest in the first early ten minutes and could’ve been one nill up with Pedro to open the scoring. The Spanish attacker found breaking free of the Gunners high-holding defensive backline very easy, and would have just the Arsenal goalkeeper in the way – but lacked composure when it was needed and would watch his effort get carried away by the Czech international.
That was about it for Chelsea and clear-cut chances in the first half, as the Gunners took over the pedestal. Danny Welbeck could’ve opened the scoring for the Gunners when Iwobi and Bellerin combined well to disrupt the left-side of the Chelsea defense; with the Spaniard putting in a delightful cross but wasn’t directed properly towards goal by Welbeck.
Once again the Gunners continued to penetrate Chelsea from the left side of their system and this time, Ramsey and Bellerin combined well to displace Marcos Alonso from his position, this time finding Lacazette who was well surrounded in the penalty area but managed to hit a first-time shot which was well saved by Courtois.
A clear effort on goal in the 41st minute would’ve given the Gunners the sort of scoreline they’ve wanted going into the halftime break. The tireless Aaron Ramsey got himself into a nice position and seemed confused on what to do with the ball for a couple of seconds, before striking the ball which was goal-bound but only to be denied by the post and Lacazette missing the rebound.
The second half looked balanced, as both sides seemed to balance both attack and defense cordially not to make a costly mistake. In the 71st minute, Mustafi headed in what seemed to be the winner but would only be allowed to celebrate for about two seconds, as his effort was rightly ruled off for offside.
Since Conte took charge over Chelsea, he’s seen his team’s disciplinary record against rivals Arsenal to be a bit of a concern. In the 88th minute of the encounter, David Luiz was shown a straight red though he was on a yellow – a reckless tackle by the Brazilian on Sead Kolasinac was seen as vile as referee Micheal Oliver showed the defender a red card.
All in all, though the match ending in a 0-0 draw, there were a lot of positives to take from the match. The team was fearless and didn’t get bullied like they’ve been in recent times, playing with passion and pride which is what has been lacking lately from the red part of London.
Aaron Ramsey was given the man of the match award and he was one of the top performers in this match but, I felt the award was best suited for Nacho Monreal who was hardly wrong in everything he did and was more than enough in containing threats from the host.