Well, well, well…
Arsenal put in quite the performance in one of the games of the year!
Something clearly happens when Conte comes to town because Wenger consistently finds a way to stump him. Last night was no different and had it not been for a pretty shoddy penalty decision, he might have walked away with the three points.
So many great performances out there. Mesut Ozil stole the show, this season, morphing into the big game player we all hoped he’d be when we bought him. He didn’t shirk responsibility, he drove the game forward and he kept Chelsea guessing with what he was going to do next.
The deadlock took a while to break, but not because of a lack of chances from both teams. It’s not often you see a player hit both posts, but Sanchez managed it when Courtois tipped his shot onto the right post, watching it roll along the line to clatter the left post. Unreal bad lack.
Petr Cech wasn’t to be outclassed with the saves. He had a powerful game, closing down angles and doing particularly well in the second half to deal with a Moratta shot and tricky Alonso header within a 20-second burst.
The breakthrough came from Jack Wilshere, he anticipated a loose ball in the box and crashed home his high finish in off the post. A fantastic moment, telling to watch the huge bundle of players all wanting to celebrate the big goal.
As is standard Arsenal, it didn’t take long to give away our lead. Bellerin kicked the underside of Hazard’s boot, the Belgian collapsed unnaturally and won the spot kick. You wonder how much Wenger’s conspiracy theories this week helped ease that decision over the line. Regardless, this idea that any sort of contact is enough to down a player in the box is wrong, Hazard is a powerhouse when he fancies it, and he should be punished. Anyway, Cech obviously didn’t save it and the teams drew level.
The lead went over to Chelsea next, a wonderful Willian crossfield ball found Zappacosta, the Italian managed to wriggle away from AMN, he cut a low hard cross into the 6-yard box where Alonso had shaken off Mutafi to clip home. Gutting. Really poor from the defence, and a shame for AMN who’d been having a terrific game in an unfamiliar role.
The game wasn’t over though, Arsenal fought to the last and landed their just rewards when Danny W didn’t quite make a header, the ball bounced out to Bellerin who rifled home a half-volley across Courtois to make it 2-2.
Chelsea still found time to hit the bar, but the game finished a point apiece.
So what did we learn?
Well, our defence doesn’t have a lot of depth to it. Calum Chambers, Rob Holding and Mustafi are not quite the full package yet, but hey, they are really fucking young and two of them are very green to professional football. Chelsea had a few really good chances that you kind of winced at defensively, but look, only one of the goals was an error and that came from our most expensive defensive signing ever. Also worth noting that you don’t exactly get a lot of protection from Jack and Xhaka. Also also, Cech can’t save penalties, but he can have a great game like last night. Some vital saves.
This kid is absolute mustard. Calm on the ball, great with both feet, electric moving forward and pretty damn skilful. I’d have him in the middle playing next to the very tired looking Xhaka. Imagine a midfield trio of Ramsey, AMN and Jack? It’d be pretty exciting if you ask me. Regardless of the mistake for the goal, he still did a very good job in an unfamiliar position.
It’s great to see him playing so well against big teams, it’s a little sad that it’s against the backdrop of him being out of contract. He looks like he’s playing his way into the hearts of scouts all over Europe. I’ve no doubt he’d still like to stay at Arsenal, but if someone shinier comes in, it’ll be tough to keep him because he’s on a different level at the moment. Simply unstoppable. Fabulous performance from the German.
He’s back from the knackers yard. He turned up yesterday, played a crucial role, and scored a goal. Worth noting that he’s played an awful lot over the past month, might be worth giving him a break. He’s gone from some real famine, to that feast the kids ate in Jurassic Park after escaping t-rex. Give him a breather, preserve him, and let’s try and enjoy a great 5 months niggle free. Brilliant to see him back, the team feels super aggressive with him in the fold.
I thought the decision was pernickety at best, total fucking garbage at worst. VAR would allow him to take another look and see a player who regularly fakes impact, fall to the floor and grab the wrong ankle. Really pathetic that there’s even a debate over it. Strong men don’t fall down under such deft contact, it’s such a shame we’ve lost 4 points in 2 days for avoidable decisions. I will say though… Wenger needs to calm down on the conspiracy theories, you don’t want the refs out to get us, and that does happen. IT MIGHT BE HAPPENING NOW.
Another nearly game for the Frenchman. He’s in a lot of good positions, but he’s either forcing world-classs saves or not quite at the races. He’s in the game though, and that’s important. Not many players can do it before Christmas, so hopefully once he scores one, he’ll get back to that Ligue 1 form and start making the difference a little more often.
In isolation, it’s a good 1 point. Big picture, it’s a bit of a disaster. 11 points from a potential 24. That’s not helping us. It gives Spurs the chance to open up a 4 point gap and leaves us 5 points off 4th. I’m not saying we’re out the running for top 4, but we really need to start winning some games and getting back on a run.
Wenger will come out of this smelling of glorious failure, we’ll go along with it, but is chasing Liverpool and Spurs for 4th the extent of our dreams?