Arsenal hold Chelsea in surprising display

By Hilton Yip Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/18 22:23:39

You never know what is going on at Arsenal. One minute they are succumbing to a 4-0 drubbing by Liverpool, and the next they are holding the defending champions to a draw.

Since returning from the international break, the ­Gunners have looked rejuvenated. Disorganized, confused and feeble at Anfield, the Gunners were coming off consecutive wins in the Europa League and Premiership when they took on Chelsea on Sunday. Some people may have expected a ­beating, but instead the Gunners claimed a moral victory of sorts by holding Chelsea to a 0-0 draw at their home ground.

In fact, it was sort of disappointing that Arsenal did not secure a win after missing some close chances and playing against 10 men from the 87th minute. Summer signings Alexander Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac continued to play well, while Mesut Ozil was out and Alexis Sanchez again started on the bench. Ozil's absence may have been especially noticeable since he has been accused of not turning up for big games. Sanchez also has not started the last two league games though he had a busy international break for his country. If Arsene Wenger is looking to ease the team away from its previous reliance on their two stars, both of whom have been linked with other teams, then it seems to be working.

While the game did not have much highlight moments, Arsenal will be the more satisfied. They have not fared well at Stamford Bridge, and will be happy to have come away with a point, the first time in six years they have not lost there. More clinical finishing from Lacazette and others could have seen an Arsenal win. Shkodran Mustafi had an impressive game at the center of the defense behind a game-high eight clearances.

Chelsea will be frustrated to have been so easily stifled by Arsenal, given how out of sorts the latter looked at the start of the season. The Blues had run amok in the Champions League on Tuesday by thrashing Qarabag 6-0 but on Sunday, Alvaro Morata and Pedro were easily held in check by Arsenal defenders.

As reported here a few weeks ago, these two teams seem to be enjoying a more equal rivalry since last season, a huge change from the one-sided dominance of Chelsea over the last several years. But while Chelsea do not hold as much menace for the Gunners anymore, Arsenal need to be able to repeat this performance against other major rivals. Until that happens, we will continue to be surprised by good performances such as this.

The author is a Hong Kong-based freelance writer.


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