FULL MATCH: Chelsea vs Arsenal 2- 2 Highlights & Goals 2020 HD | @iBrandTV
Chelsea 2-2 Arsenal: Martinelli and Bellerin rescue a point for Arteta’s gritty ten-man Gunners
Ten-men Arsenal showed true character to twice come from behind to earn a point during a pulsating 2-2 draw against London rivals Chelsea.
A moment of madness from Shkodran Mustafi with a poor backpass led to David Luiz being sent-off for tangling with Tammy Abraham in the box.
The former Chelsea defender looked distraught as he left the field to a cacophony of catcalls before Jorginho slotted home the resulting first half penalty to put the Blues 1-0 up.
Arteta’s ten-man Arsenal showed their new-found character to bounce back early in the second half through a quite superb individual goal from Gabriel Martinelli to make it 1-1.
The home side then went 2-1 ahead through Cesar Azpilicueta before a superlative late strike from Hector Bellerin equalised to make it 2-2 with moments remaining – sending Arsenal supporters into raptures.
It was the least they deserved for their unstinting, loyal support throughout a cracking London derby.
Story of the game
Arsenal made the short trip across the capital buoyed by their manager who said team were making progress.
The head coach showed his belief in his team by only making one change from their starting XI from the draw against Sheffield United at the Emirates last time out.
Captain fantastic Bellerin led the side instead of the suspended Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who missed the game through the second of his three match for a dangerous tackle on Crystal Palace‘s Max Meyer earlier this month.
Arteta took the armband from the misfiring Alex Lacazette and handed it to the fit again Bellerin, drafted into the side, to replace Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
Lacazette, on the crest of a slump with only six goals in 20 games for the Gunners this season, did start in a 4-2-3-1 formation as Arsenal sought to close the 10 point gap between them and the Blues in fourth place.
The former Lyon striker was looking for his first goal since notching in the 2-2 draw in Belgium against Standard Liege in the Europa League on December 12, while he searched for his first Premier League strike since scoring in the 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Brighton at the Emirates earlier that month.
Would he end that miserable run on a cold west London evening? We were to find out under the floodlights at a raucous Stamford Bridge.
Lampard’s side had triumphed 2-1 in the reverse fixture at the Emirates a matter of weeks ago, spoiling Arteta’s first home match in charge as head coach.
However, there was hope for the visitors, with Chelsea losing eight league matches this term, with many defeats coming after having far more possession than their opponents – something the canny Arteta must have analysed.
The match opened with a high tempo shown from both sides with 18-year-old left-back Bukayo Saka and Martinelli linking well down the left flank, with Nicolas Pepe offering a threat along the opposite channel.
Azpilicueta dovetailed with Mateo Kovacic on the edge of the area before Mustafi – making his second league start of the week showed bravery, lunging to block the powerful shot from former Real Madrid midfielder.
From a resulting corner moments later, Andreas Christensen narrowly angled the ball wide as the atmosphere crackled as both sets of fans created a tremendous racket.
So they should have done because this fixture between two proud sides has seen many memorable clashes and talented footballers over the years.
It was the north Londoners who held the upper hand after the first 199 derbies played, stretching back to November 1907 when the first match in the series took place, with Chelsea beating the Woolwich Arsenal 2-1 – even if the Gunners could boast 77 victories and 12 fewer defeats, with 57 draws in more than a century of clashes.
There was certainly no quarter given, nor asked for in the latest match, with both teams showing intensity allied with excellent technique in the frenetic opening stages.
This fixture may have become more cosmopolitan since Chelsea became the first team to field three player-managers in Glenn Hoddle, Ruud Gullit and Gianluca Vialli in the mid to late 90s but the passion remains.
The home side could have taken the lead on 14 minutes after Antonio Rudiger fed Abraham who effort flew wide as the Blues bossed the opening 15 minutes.
Arsenal did look to counter when they could, with former Roma left-back, Emerson, receiving a deserved yellow card after clipping Pepe as he attempted to power past the Brazilian five minutes later.
However, the pivotal moment in the game – or so we thought – came in the 27th minute when the hapless Mustafi, under no pressure, played a sloppy backpass towards Leno.
The former Valencia defender could only look on in horror as Abraham capitalised on the dreadful error, ducking past the onrushing keeper and into the box.
Former Chelsea man Luiz desperately attempted to stop the former Swansea loanee, but instead tangled with the England forward, with the pair falling to the ground – prompting referee Atwell to immediately point to the spot.
Worse was to come as he sent off the 2012 Champions League winner, making his first appearance back at the Bridge as an Arsenal player.
As the jeers and catcalls aimed at their former hero still rang around west London, Jorginho put Chelsea ahead as his low shot evaded Leno’s left hand to make it 1-0 a minute later.
In the aftermath, Arteta had appeared to opt to bring Rob Holding on, but at the last moment decided against hooking an attacking player, rather, preferring Xhaka to drop back into Luiz’s position in a bid to solidify the reeling backline.
The decision worked as the Gunners went into the break only a goal down, albeit, crucially, a man down, with it all to do in the second half.
During the break, Arteta decided to keep Xhaka as his makeshift centre-half, along with the unfortunate Mustafi, as the Gunners started the second period with the same side that finished the first.
However, the Gunners boss soon decided to replace the anonymous Ozil with Matteo Guendouzi on 55 minutes.
Nine minutes later, Arsenal were level following Martinelli’s superlative strike, which improved on every viewing.
The talented 18-year-old Brazilian, signed for £6m from Sao Paolo lower league side Ituano, picked up the ball in his own half and proceeded to run the length of the pitch before calmly slotting home past Blues net minder Kepa Arrizabalaga – sending his teammates and the 3,000 vociferous travelling Gooners behind the goal into raputures of joy.
Martinelli’s strike also saw him become the first Gunners teenager to notch 10 goals in a season since the precocious Nicolas Anelka.
Chelsea were not finished, and Leno had to pull off an excellent save from substitute Ross Barkley – who replaced Emerson – before Holding finally entered the field of play after his aborted effort in the first half as he replaced Pepe with nine minutes remaining.
The Blues then went ahead when captain Azpilicueta put the home side ahead with six minutes left.
However, the tough Gunners – now with added backbone – struck back to earn a deserved point through a spectacular low curler from captain Bellerin from outside the area crept past Kepa in goal.
Arteta’s Arsenal might be a work in progress but my word they showed character in abundance to silence the Blues in a cracking London derby.