A good point for Arsenal, but from a bad game, that was only otherwise notable for some bad misses and one bad challenge from David Luiz. The Chelsea centre-half’s late red card for a rash challenge on Sead Kolasinac was the main piece of action from this mostly dull 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge, and he will now miss the champions’ home match against Manchester City. Few, however, will mind missing the highlights of this match - not that there were many beyond a handful wasted opportunities.
A surprisingly flat Chelsea meanwhile wasted the chance to beat an Arsenal that did not start Mesut Ozil or Alexis Sanchez, but there was still the odd feeling that Arsenal could have got something more. They at least didn’t get beat, for the first time in this fixture since 2011. That is a positive.
Arsenal did not have Ozil or Sanchez but did seemingly have a plan - something that did make a big change from previous visits to Stamford Bridge.
They were even the better team for much of the first half. Although Chelsea had more of the ball, it was Wenger’s side that had the better of the chances and should probably have been ahead. Sure, Alvaro Morata headed wide when in front of goal and Pedro squandered a one-on-one, but those misses still weren’t as stunning as Alexandre Lacazette’s. The French striker somehow put the ball over the bar from just four yards out, after Aaron Ramsey bundled through the Chelsea box to hit the post. Danny Welbeck had earlier headed wide from a similarly close position, if not so presentable an opportunity, and it summed up the generally low technical quality of the game up to then.
Arsenal’s tactical discipline nevertheless raised questions over the superior organisation of the sides without their two stars, and whether this was a glimpse of the future.
They just didn't really maximise that momentum.
Chelsea did rally in the second half and began to take control, but they struggled to create proper chances. Eden Hazard didn’t start the game, as he is still recovering from the ankle injury suffered at the start of the summer, but Conte did eventually bring him on and the champions finally started to look a bit freer in attack and more like themselves.
They almost took the lead when the Belgian burst through the backline with a jinking run, but his firm shot was well held by Petr Cech.
Wenger had finally brought on Sanchez by that point, but he couldn’t really get into the game. Arsenal did have the ball in the net on 76 minutes, after Shkodran Mustafi had headed in a set-piece but his celebrations were disrupted by the offside flag. Wenger’s side were struggling to get any kind of flow then, as Tiemoue Bakayoko and N’Golo Kante disrupted pretty much every move.
It said much that the French manager also brought on Olivier Giroud, but Arsenal couldn’t really get the ball to him because by then they couldn’t get the ball. Cesc Fabregas was starting to assert control - until David Luiz lost control.
The sweeper was running with the ball down the right on 88 minutes, and trying to shake off Alexis Sanchez only to lose the ball and then go in rashly on Kolasinac. The left-back was writhing in pain on the ground, leaving Michael Oliver no option but to show the red card.
Arsenal almost took advantage of the extra man straight away, but Nacho Monreal’s shot was blocked.
There was a bit of spike to the game at that point - but still no special quality, still nothing to elevate it, leaving both sides to play out an ultimately flat draw.
After the exhibition by Manchester City at Watford, it wasn’t exactly a performance to strike fear. Both just struck out.
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