So far this Arsenal have won all their home games and lost both their away matches without scoring and given their record at Stamford Bridge this looked a home banker, but we were about to see a very different Arsenal.
Antonio Conte went with tried and tested with the recovering Hazard kept on the bench, whilst Arsenal Wenger resisted the temptation to start Sanchez which looked odd given the absence of Ozil.
In the early states Arsenal stayed compact but Willian’s pace from deep threatened to undo them. Fabregas & Kante probed but Arsenal appear to have learned from their shelling at Anfield.
On 15 minutes a quick Arsenal counter sae Bellerin pick out Welbeck on the edge of the box but his glancing header fell just wide and then Bellerin again got in behind and almost set Lacazette up but Luiz got in front of the Frenchman.
Then on 21 minutes a beautiful Fabregas pass saw Pedro through who beat the offside trap only to fire an effort straight at Cech. As the first half wore on it became apparent that Arsenal weren’t going to be outmuscled by Chelsea as has often been the case in recent meetings between these two with Xhaka and Ramsey showing resolute discipline in midfield.
Then on 41 minutes Ramsey turned Azpilicueta inside out and pushed an effort onto to the lefthand post. Chelsea were struggling to impose themselves with even Kante lacking his usual composure on the ball. But Morata always looked a danger on the countermand almost forced Monreal into an own goal before half-time but they went into the break at 0-0.
For the second half Bakayoko entered the fray for Chelsea and the game immediately became stretched. Tempers started to flare and on 52 minutes Luiz was booked for an attempted bicycle kick that (accidentally) wound up in Koscielny’s face.
5 minutes later Ramsey was teasing Chelsea again combing with Welbeck but Courtois snuffed it out. The game continued in the spirit of a derby with neither side finding the moment of quality needed to break the deadlock. On 66 minutes Sanchez was on and 2 minutes later Hazard was on. the 73rd minute saw a hefty challenge from Luiz on Welbeck saw the Arsenal forward replaced by Giroud.
Then Mustafa headed home from a free kick only to have it correctly chalked off for offside. Hazard then danced around the Arsenal backline only to shoot straight at Cech. Hazard provided the greatest threat in the last 10 minutes but on 87 Luiz followed through on Kolasnic and for the third straight time in this fixture Chelsea were down to 10 men.
With little time left Arsenal didn’t have the time to exploit their advantage and it finished 0-0. Arsenal will be the happier- a point at Stamford Bridge is always a point gained. They were disciplined and a world away from the shambles we saw at Anfield. That said without Ozil they lacked the incision to cut Chelsea open.
Chelsea themselves will not be too disappointed. For all the noise coming out of Manchester this season, The Blues are better defensively than City or United and have their most dynamic weapon coming back to fitness with only a 3 point deficit on top spot. They’ve also taken 7 points from games against Spurs, Arsenal and Everton. Would you bet against Hazard when the run in arrives?
Football fan, follower of England, Leeds and will watch any game possible (between raising twins!)