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Arsenal show fight as Bellerin and Xhaka

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Arsenal show fight as Bellerin and Xhaka

Chelsea and Arsenal shared the points in an enthralling London derby that ended 2-2 at Stamford Bridge.

The visitors went behind in disastrous fashion in the 28th minute when Shkodran Mustafi‘s poor backpass was pounced on by Tammy Abraham, before the Chelsea forward rounded Bernd Leno and was brought down by David Luiz.

Jorginho slotted home the resulting penalty after Luiz was shown a straight red card, but Arsenal rallied in the second half and got themselves level thanks to a superb Gabriel Martinelli goal. Then, after Chelsea thought they won it with a Cesar Azpilicueta tap-in, Hector Bellerin snatched a point in the 87th minute with a skidding effort from the edge of the box.

Positives

After going down to 10-men, Arsenal looked surprisingly solid defensively with Granit Xhaka as a makeshift centre-back and restricted their opponents to very little in the way of genuine goal scoring chances. Martinelli’s stock looks set to rise even further following his excellent equaliser.

Negatives

Unfortunately for Arsenal fans, Stamford Bridge was the scene for yet another instalment of the ‘Mustafi Show,’ and his calamitous error must surely be the final nail in the coffin for his Gunners career.

Manager rating out of 10

6 — It was a brave decision from Mikel Arteta not to directly replace the departed Luiz by bringing Rob Holding on for Martinelli, but he was rewarded with a brave second half display that will provide the coaching team with plenty of encouragement.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Bernd Leno, 6 — The goalkeeper was well beaten by Jorginho’s accurate penalty, but the German was excellent with almost everything else he faced, before being taken by surprise by an instinctive Azpilicueta finish.

DF Bukayo Saka, 6 — The youngster looked set for a tough evening after a difficult early examination from Callum Hudson-Odoi, but stuck to his task at left-back and began to manage the threat, whilst looking to get forward and combine with Martinelli.

DF David Luiz, 5 — His return to Stamford Bridge came to an early end after he bundled over Abraham in the box and was duly red-carded for stopping an obvious goal scoring opportunity as he was the last man.

DF Shkodran Mustafi, 4 — The centre-back looked nervous in possession in the opening 25 minutes, before a total horror show saw him dreadfully underhit a back pass to let in Abraham on the way to Luiz’s red card and Chelsea’s penalty. He didn’t let it get to him after that, but it was still a poor showing.

DF Hector Bellerin, 7 — Arsenal’s most reliable defender on the night and, just over a year after suffering a serious knee injury against the same opponents, the Spaniard struck a lovely left-footed shot into the far corner to scrape a point for his side.

MF Granit Xhaka, 7 — Unable to get his foot on the ball and dictate play as Chelsea overcrowded him and poured forward in midfield, he dropped in at centre-back after Luiz’s early dismissal and looked surprisingly accomplished.

MF Lucas Torreira, 6 — The more effective of the Arsenal double midfield pivot when it came to breaking up Chelsea attacks, Torreira looked keen to instigate a high press in the second half as his side grew in belief.

MF Gabriel Martinelli, 7 — It was an energetic display that has typified the 18-year-old’s bright start to his Arsenal career and, following a stroke of luck when N’Golo Kante‘s slipped, the Brazilian showed great composure to sprint through on goal and place the ball past Kepa Arrizabalaga to make the score 1-1. Replaced by Joe Willock in the closing stages.

MF Mesut Ozil, 5 — It was another desperately disappointing showing from a player who is capable of so much more when he’s in the mood. The Arsenal No. 10 never looked up for the fight and an anonymous performance came to an end in the 55th minute when he was replaced by Matteo Guendouzi

MF Nicolas Pepe, 6 — Another one of those performances that saw the talented Ivorian show flashes of skill that gave you the impression that he could be about to do something special, but he didn’t quite follow it up with a telling final ball. Replaced by Holding for the final nine minutes.

FW Alexandre Lacazette, 5 — The former Lyon man cut an isolated figure as Chelsea dominated possession, and his evening became even more arduous after Luiz’s red card. Outside of the penalty area it’s difficult to see what the forward offers.

Substitutes

Matteo Guendouzi, 6 — Yellow-carded for cynically bringing down Chelsea sub Mason Mount as he raced into the Arsenal half, but the Arsenal man helped give his side some much-needed composure and control in midfield.

Rob Holding, N/A — Unable to keep Chelsea out in his short cameo, but helped secure the draw.

Joe Willock, N/A — Not enough time to get into the game.

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