After having much the better of the match and dominating the entire first half, Chelsea allowed the opposition to get back into the game in the second period and score twice to snatch a draw in this London derby. It was a commendable performance by Arsenal, bearing in mind that they played with ten men for over an hour after former Chelsea player David Luiz was sent off.
Chelsea coach, Frank Lampard said: “We did the basics right but got one wrong and gifted them the first goal. They had two opportunities on break away and got two goals. In the second half we had a lot of the ball and we were in their half most of the time. We moved the ball well but we didn’t take our chances. They had a few moments and they fought for it.”
Lampard added: “The initiative is on us to be really ruthless about doing the right things, to move the ball quick enough and take our chances when they come along but we just didn’t take our chances.” Chelsea are currently in negotiations for Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani, 32, from Paris Saint-Germain. The player had put in a request to move, the PSG boss Thomas Tuchel admitted the player could leave this month. He said: “We don’t want to lose a player but it can happen, it’s reality. We have to wait, maybe nothing will happen. I’m calm.”
Chelsea’s first goal came about after a mistake by Shkodran Mustafi whose tame back-pass to his goalkeeper fell short and Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham was on to it in a flash. He rounded the keeper and was clean through but Luiz in desperation brought him down. The referee had no hesitation in showing him the red card and Jorginho coolly tucked away the resulting penalty.
Arsenal drew level in the second half when their promising 18-year-old Gabriel Martinelli picked up a clearance deep in his half and dashed up the pitch. Fortunately for him, Chelsea midfielder N’Gola Kante slipped in front of him, allowing him to freely advance and slip the ball into the Chelsea goal.
With six minutes from the end, Chelsea must have thought they have clinched the match when unmarked Cesar Azpilicueta darted into the Arsenal six-yard box to score following a corner kick. But the drama wasn’t completed until, with just three minutes remaining, Hector Bellerin pushed ahead looking for the equaliser and fired from outside the box with the goalkeeper mistiming his dive. The goal would have brought Bellerin memories of two years ago when he scored a 90th minute equaliser to make it 2-2 against this opposition at the Emirates stadium.
While Chelsea looked miserable after twice letting their lead slip away in this match, a relieved Arsenal coach, Mikel Arteta was punching the air in joy. He said: “There were a lot of positives. The energy, the atmosphere. I’m proud of the players, the spirit they showed to fight.”
Arteta added: “We were playing with our young kids and what they showed tonight is going to be a great experience for them. They are fighting really hard to convince us that they should play more. I hope they take it (the result) well and from here move to a different level.”