The Original London derby, a prestigious fixture on the Premier League calendar, Chelsea vs Arsenal may not have had goals, but it was one of the most entertaining goalless draws this season.
Arsenal would be the happier of the two with this result as they managed to keep a clean sheet away from home to a member of the top 6. In fairness to them, it was quite an even affair with both sides creating chances. Arsenal actually scored through the head of Shkodran Mustafi only to have his celebrations cut short due to the offside flag.
This game was really about whether or not Arsenal’s defense could be strong enough to stave off a confident Chelsea. It was an acid test of sorts for the club and their defense managed to pass it. They were rugged and strong, they did not get bullied a team that has managed to get the upper hand over them in their last 5 meetings at Stamford Bridge. Mustafi and Kolasinac were the pick of the defenders with their strength being used to good effect, keeping Chelsea players at bay. They managed Morata well, a striker who has started off life in England pretty well. He may not have the physical prowess of the other strikers but he is one of the smartest forwards around with his movement. Mustafi and him had quite a day with both exchanging quite a few tackles.
That does not mean that Chelsea did not have chances, they did and their best one was in the 21st minute when Fabregas played a delightful ball forward for Pedro only to see Pedro hit the ball straight at Cech. Arsenal had their chances too, they came closest when Ramsey hit the post in the 41st minute and Lacazette missed the subsequent tap in.
Chelsea did have to defend too though, one might even say that Arsenal had the better chances to score. David Luiz played well to keep Lacazette at bay before having a brain-freeze and going in studs up on Kolasinac. Another bright spark for Arsenal was Hector Bellerin as he terrorized Marcos Alonso time and time again playing as a wing back.
Both teams had arguably their best players on their benches for different reasons. Hazard was still recovering from an injury although once he came on it did not look like he was recovering from anything, and Sanchez who found himself on the bench due to Welbeck’s form although one could make the case that he should have started ahead of Iwobi.
Chelsea started Fabregas and they usually they only start him when they know they will need a creative spark to make inroads into a defense. He did play well and played his scintillating passes around the pitch but Chelsea were just not able to make use of it.
Another great sight for Arsenal fans was to see the much criticized pair of Ramsey and Xhaka be disciplined in their play. It was only 3 weeks ago that Arsenal were humbled by Liverpool and these two had to take a lot of the criticism. Today though, they put that behind them and matches Chelsea’s midfield.
In the end, neither team deserved to lose although Chelsea might view it as a missed opportunity. Arsenal showed us what they can do as a defensive unit when motivated and Chelsea got a check on their attack. Conte needs to take them back to the drawing board and figure out a better way to break down defenses as resolute as the one they encountered today.
Featured Image via sport360.
Mustafi steward Image via Facebook.
Mustafi and Morata Image via Facebook.
Lacazette and Luiz Image via Facebook.
Ramsey Image via Facebook.
Statistics Image via Premier League.