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Arsenal Show Spirit To Earn Away Point at Chelsea

Honours were even at Stamford Bridge in the match between Chelsea and Arsenal, as the travelling Gunners exceeded most people’s expectations to more than deserve a share of the points.Pundits and the media alike were sceptical about Arsenal’s chances of snatching anything away from the home of Chelsea in this game, but this wasn’t merely Gooner-baiting which is always popular in such fields. They actually had a basis for such negativity.Stats suggested that since Arsene Wenger’s team were without a win at Chelsea since 2011 and without an away win versus a Top6 side for thirteen games, that this would be a mere formality for Antonio Conte’s side. Arsenal have been a soft touch against their supposed rivals when not playing at The Emirates, and the recent thumping at the hands of Liverpool meant that even us fans were not exactly optimistic about our chances!The lineup for Arsenal contained a surprise too. Mesut Ozil’s knee complaint meant he was ruled out for this game, and it meant a great opportunity for Alex Iwobi in the front three. Alexandre Lacazette took the striker’s spot, with in-form Danny Welbeck deservedly keeping his place ahead of the returning Alexis.There were no other anomalies in the visiting eleven, but without our two star players in Alexis and Ozil, our team did look a little weak, especially when we were visiting the home of the Champions.The first twenty or so minutes were shaky, but our defence just about managed to hold their own. Chelsea looked to stretch our team through Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses streaming forward on the overlap, but to their credit, Hector Bellerin and Sead Kolasinac kept their positional counterparts stifled.It was turning into a tactical battle in the midfield, with bursts from the centre providing the only real openings. There was a chance apiece in the first part of the half, with former Gunner Cesc Fabregas testing former Blue Petr Cech, and Danny Welbeck going agonisingly wide with a header at the other end. There was a lull in goalmouth action somewhat, as both teams jockeyed for superiority in the centre of the pitch. Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka showed the better side of their budding partnership here, as they tracked back and went forward in tune with one another. This would give Arsenal the edge in the rest of the half.Alexandre Lacazette and Granit Xhaka went close, but it was the Frenchman who would get the best chance of the entire game in the 41st minute. Aaron Ramsey took the ball on another foray forward and slipped into the box past his marker. He adapted his body to squirt a shot past Thibaut Courtois, but the ball hit the post. The rebound came straight to Lacazette, who had no time for anything other than a swing of his boot from six yards out, and he skied his effort.That was the first 45 in a nutshell. Both teams looking dangerous at times, but the goalkeepers were equal to everything, aside from Ramsey’s unlucky effort. If this were a boxing match though, Arsenal would’ve been ahead on points though.How many times have we read or seen this however? Our Gunners impressing, but in the end we pay for our failure to convert our dominance? The second half carried the same pattern as the first. Chelsea starting the stronger, but there were fewer chances than in the first. There was an increase in bookings though, as the game became intermittent through needless stoppages. Alexis came off from the bench in the 63rd minute, for the valiant Lacazette, which meant the Chilean would be up top to terrorise tired Chelsea legs. Eight minutes later and Danny Welbeck crumpled to the floor and immediately signalled to the bench that he needed to be replaced, which is a worrying sign given the England striker’s history with injury. Olivier Giroud was his replacement, and it meant our formation was shifted a little yet again.Minutes later, and it appeared the deadlock was broken. Shkodran Mustafi headed in from a free-kick delivery, but replays suggested the offside call which ruled out the goal was correct. It did underline that Wenger’s men were creating the best openings, but the rest of the game would see no clear cut aperture’s in either defence.The last event that did resonate in the game was through David Luiz. Battling with Alexis on the left flank, the ball spun loose toward Sead Kolasinac. The large-haired Brazilian carried on and lunged with his studs up on the Bosnian, and referee Michael Oliver had no hesitation in giving Luiz his marching orders.On the balance of play, the Gunner’s edged proceedings. The better chances were a plus, but it was the dynamic between Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey which was most promising. It showed that with gametime, they may well yet provide the answer we have been seeking for far too long. It is early days of course, but the way they handled Chelsea was impressive indeed, even when the explosive Tiemoue Bakayoko came on in the second half.This performance rubbished any claims that our side has no spine. Our play used our mettle as a solid foundation, and we nearly pulled off the win. We can take great heart from this result, and we can still build from it. Next up is our Carabao Cup game against Doncaster Rovers, followed by a Monday night game versus a dangerous West Brom side. The challenges are coming thick and fast now and we have no time for doubts or lack of effort. This result was a strong one and it hopefully reminds everyone that we are still alive and kicking.