When I saw the starting line-up, I was pretty confused since it’s not always that one starts a novice against a team like Chelsea (credit to Wenger in trusting this young lad Niles – the boy had the game of his life)
The game in itself was one of the best games this season – proper playground football. Chelsea had better chances, and Morata could have had a hat-trick. Wenger really needs to analyse why he was given so much space, especially since we are facing Chelsea twice this month. The key areas to be addressed apart from Morata’s freedom should be :
- The Space allowed to Fabregas – who if given time can pick out anyone.
- Hazard’s movement from deep to attacking – runs and passes
- Marcos Alonso’s movement from fullback to centre-forward
- The high line played by our defence – that allowed Morata to get so much space.
Arsenal started with a 3-4-3 and the only good thing about this formation played was that it was against a team who also play the same way (because I feel 3-4-3 is a ticking time bomb)….like bitcoin.
In the 16th min, Sanchez came close to scoring when the ball hit both posts before NOT crossing the line – credit to Courtois for his touch on the ball. Chelsea too had their fair share of chances. Bakayoko forced a good save from Cech, Fabregas skied his shot after the goal was gaping at him and Morata well, missed a good chance – his first whammy of the night.
The second half, however, was even better. Maitland Niles needs a mention here – this man terrorized Moses and Conte, being classic Conte understood this as he brought on Zappacosta in the 56th min itself to counter the lad. The young man’s runs were amazing, both up and down the pitch and he supplemented Sanchez on the left, helping the Chilean whenever he needed someone to pass to. A little more work on looking up and passing will do the boy wonders as on a few occasions he could have played a better final ball.
Within 5 minutes of half-time, Chelsea had a good chance to make it 0-1 but Cech showed the world why he is one of the best with a fantastic save of Eden Hazard.
On 63, Jack Wilshere put Arsenal ahead with a thunderous volley beyond Courtois at the end of what was a classic Arsenal “touch-play”. 4 mins later, it was 1-1. A penalty which should not have been a penalty and while some may argue about my bias, neutrally speaking – it was not a penalty because there was minimal touch from Bellerin on Hazard whose dive would have made Drogba proud. Either way, the Belgian stepped up and slotted home….1-1.
Conte by now had made up his mind about the match. On 70, he took of Fabregas for Drinkwater, a tactical substitution that meant only one thing – “I am happy to take a 1-1 draw”
I love the way Chelsea handle themselves under the 3-4-3. This is a team who actually use this formation most effectively and this can be seen clearly when they defend – the 3-4-3 shifts to a 5-3-2 with Hazard and Morata the duo up front and everybody knows what they have to do. This approach may not allow 3-0’s or 4-0’s but it gets you the 1-2’s or the 0-2’s you need.
On 83, Marcos Alonso like a bug hitting a windshield (from Arsenal’s perspective) put Chelsea ahead. Conte’s sub – Zappacosta got passed Niles with ease and played a delightful ball across the 6-yard box that had “touch me” written all over it. The defence was asleep for a second, but Marcos Alonso wasn’t. Classic Chelsea – solid at the back and taking their chances when presented to them, it was 1-2 with 6 minutes to play.
Credit to Arsenal post Alonso’s goal – the entire team gave everything to equalise. Bellerin had his shot blocked in the 86th min and Chelsea defended well to fight off wave after wave of Arsenal attacks, including the dolt Walcott who Wenger brought on for Chambers in the 88th min.
On 92, Bellerin brought the game to parity with a brilliant goal. I am very neutral when it comes to Bellerin. The man is unpredictable, like a different Jack in the box every time the box opens. But his goal was worth the watch. 1 minute later, however, Arsenal were saved from utter embarrassment courtesy of the ineptness that is Alvaro Morata – a superb 1 on 1 with Cech (who knows how he was allowed to get that far) and he messed it up, ZappaCosta on the rebound fired a shot off the cross-bar as the ref blew the final whistle seconds later.
Arsenal 2-2 Chelsea.
On clear chances, Chelsea should have won. On effort, the draw was well deserved.
Hopefully, the next time we face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, our defence is more awake because if the issues I cited on top are not addressed, we could have lost 3 points today.