10-man Arsenal earned a relatively meaningless point with a hugely meaningful performance to come from behind twice to draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Arsenal went into this Chelsea match really needing a win, so from that point of view, the result is a little disappointing. Going down to 10 men in the 26th minute and conceding a penalty immediately afterwards absolutely changes things though.
Mikel Arteta’s team played over half an hour a goal down with Shkodran Mustafi and Granit Xhaka as centre-backs. To even draw level in those circumstances is impressive, even if Gabriel Martinelli and an N’Golo Kante slip take most of the credit.
They didn’t just do it once though. After Cesar Azpilicueta gave Chelsea a 2-1 lead with six minutes to go, Arsenal rallied again to find another equaliser. Again, a lot of the credit has to go to the goalscorer, Hector Bellerin in this case.
Maybe that’s the top-four dream over anyway, but this was a really positive sign of things to come. Finally, Arsenal showed some heart in a big-six away game and got a result they had no right to.
Let’s have a look at our player ratings for the match.
- Bernd Leno 6 – A small portion of the blame for the red card and penalty incident has to go to Leno. Only a small portion, but his starting position and hesitance did put him in trouble. Other than that, he did very well, making six saves.
- Hector Bellerin 8 – Earned the official man-of-the-match award after his late goal, and this was a really positive return to the side. He supported the attack well and made some good defensive interventions.
- Shkodran Mustafi 4 – Another mistake to cost Arsenal in a big way, but Mustafi got a chance he didn’t deserve to redeem himself in the remaining 62 minutes. It won’t be a popular opinion, but he did do well after that. Still shouldn’t be starting for Arsenal.
- David Luiz 3 – It was really stupid to cynically take Abraham down, even with the goal open. Unlucky to take the fall for Mustafi’s mistake, but he had to try and make the tackle or let Abraham score. It was far too early in the game for a last-man professional foul.
- Bukayo Saka 8 – The 18-year-old continues to impress at full-back. Five tackles won, giving away zero free-kicks and not letting anyone dribble past him once. He also won 10 of his 13 ground duels, completed 85% of his passes and both of his dribbles. A couple of early stray crosses were the only downside.
- Lucas Torreira 6 – Solid, if slightly underwhelming. Stole an assist with a simple pass to Bellerin. Did his job, didn’t try anything too eye-catching, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
- Granit Xhaka 8 – Hardly put a foot wrong at centre-back. He made six clearances, two tackles, no fouls, won all four of his duels, and blocked a shot. It was a lifesaver for Arteta to have Xhaka on the pitch doing the job of a defender and a midfielder all-in-one.
- Mesut Özil 5 – Özil didn’t really too much wrong. In fact, he didn’t misplace a single pass. He just wasn’t involved in the game for most of it. Came off with 35 minutes left.
- Gabriel Martinelli 9 – I fully admit that this rating is driven by sentimentality. Sue me. This wasn’t a top-level individual performance in terms of quality, but this was a young guy who never gave up, working far harder than anyone else. When his moment came, the only chance Arsenal had in the first 85 minutes, he took it. That’s all you can ask.
- Nicolas Pepe 6 – His dribbling gave Arsenal an outlet again, as he made a few Chelsea players look silly. He didn’t have the end product but it’s so difficult with 10 men and so little support up front.
- Alexandre Lacazette 6 – Typical that when he’s offside he finally finds an excellent finish into the net. Worked hard tracking back to help out the rest of the team after the sending-off.
- Matteo Guendouzi 6 – Up to his usual trick of being really annoying to the opposition. Mason Mount seemed furious with him, and the whole Chelsea team were up in arms after his yellow-card foul. That’s exactly what Arsenal needed in the final 35 minutes, something to unsettle the home side.
- Rob Holding 6 – Made a couple of good clearances, a little unlucky with the goal as Alexandre Lacazette and Tammy Abraham both moved towards the ball then pulled out.
- Joe Willock N/A – Just a time-wasting sub, really. Won a throw-in.