And it’s all over! What a game that was! After both sides failed to take their chances in the first half – notably a Morata miss and a Sanchez effort that struck both posts – both sides came to life in front of goal in the second half. Arsenal took the lead as Wilshere thumped the ball in from close range via the post, but a silly Bellerin challenge on Hazard in the box gave Chelsea a penalty, and the man fouled duly converted down the middle. The Blues went ahead as Alonso ghosted into the box to sweep home, but his poor clearance gave Bellerin the chance to make amends as he fired in a wonderful half-volley to restore parity! Chelsea could have won it at the death, but Drinkwater’s effort could only clip the top of the crossbar after Morata’s shot was saved! It finishes 2-2 at the Emirates.
Arsene Wenger has faced Chelsea more than any other club, this was his 60th meeting. It hasn’t always been the happiest fixture either, just 22 wins going into this match – but Chelsea are a different proposition now. Previously, certainly for the last decade or so, Chelsea had horrible, bullying centre-forwards: Didier Drogba, Diego Costa. No longer.
Alvaro Morata is strong in the air, but without the same belligerence. Going into the game with Calum Chambers and Rob Holding as two of the back three, once Arsenal might have been battered into submission. Instead, in the first-half, Morata let them spectacularly off the hook.
The game was 14 minutes old when pure naivety presented Chelsea with a gift. A long ball hit in hope from the back was allowed to drop by Chambers who cannot have seen the position occupied by team-mate Shkodran Mustafi.
Either he didn’t see him, and presumed Morata was offside, or he saw Mustafi and presumed he was dealing with the loose ball. So he stopped, and let it roll, and Morata ran on, somewhat surprised, and now with only Petr Cech to beat. Drogba, Costa, any number of Chelsea forwards would have been heavily backed to take it. Morata flopped, embarrassingly so, missing at the far post.
MATCH STATS AND FACTS
Cech 8.5; Chambers 6 (Walcott 88), Mustafi 6, Holding 6.5; Bellerin 6.5, Wilshere 7, Xhaka 6.5, Maitland Niles 6.5; Ozil 7, Sanchez 7; Lacazette 6 (Welbeck 80).
Subs not used: Mertesacker, Ospina, Iwobi, Coquelin, Elneny
Manager: Arsene Wenger 7
Goals: Wilshere 63, Bellerin 90
Yellow cards: Wilshere 31, Holding 53, Ozil 67
Courtois 7; Azpilicueta 7, Christensen 7, Cahill 6.5; Moses 5.5 (Zappacosta 56, 7), Bakayoko 6.5, Kante 7, Fabregas 7 (Drinkwater 70, 6), Alonso 7; Hazard 8 (Willian 81), Morata 4
Subs not used: Caballero, Rudiger, Pedro, Batshuayi
Manager: Antonio Conte 7
Goals: Hazard (pen) 67, Alonso 84
Yellow cards: Fabregas 42, Courtois 89
Ref: Anthony Taylor 6.5
It reminded of little more than the torrid time experienced by Fernando Torres after his £50m move from Liverpool. Morata struggled from that point. A minute later, Victor Moses whipped in a cross at the near post, which needed a touch and got nothing, Morata failing to make contact at all. His game did not recover for the remainder of the first-half, even his support play became sloppy and imprecise. What Chelsea did in the half hour before half time, they did for themselves.