Spoils Shared as Chelsea and Arsenal Fire Blanks in Even Contest
A goalless draw was not the result many expected as Chelsea hosted Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, but a disciplined performance from the Gunners ensured their poor record away from home was a thing of the past.
With few opportunities on goal presenting themselves in the second half, both Chelsea and Arsenal were left to rue missed opportunities from the opening stages as spoils were shared in the tense affair which resulted in a red card for David Luiz.
Chelsea kicked off the game's proceedings and were on the front foot from the off, making early use of the space Arsenal provided to get both their wide and creative players on the ball without much delay.
An intricate and fast-paced passing game from the home side left the Gunners struggling to get a hold of the ball early-on, as Álvaro Morata quickly became the focal point for Chelsea's attack - with his early headers just wide of the mark.
Despite barely having a look in in the opening 15 minutes of the game, Arsenal quickly burst into life out of nothing as Hector Bellerin was allowed to attack the space behind Marcos Alonso twice in quick succession.
Bellerin's first blistering run down the right wing led to a cross which was fractionally too high for an oncoming Danny Welbeck to steer on target, whilst his second ball across the six-yard box required the quick intervention of Thibaut Courtois, as Alexandre Lacazette looked poised to tap home.
With Arsenal starting to grab a foothold in the game mid-way through the first 45, opportunities were coming thick and fast for both teams as space in each side's half started to open up.
Chelsea almost becoming the first to take advantage, as a superb through ball from Cesc Fabregas sent Pedro away clear on goal, with the Spaniard left to rue the opportunity as his slight hesitation in dispatching a shot allowed the Gunners to put pressure on, allowing Petr Cech to make a save.
Both sides fired blanks as they traded blows within the latter stages of the half, but this time it was the Gunners to draw in a sigh of exasperation as they should have found themselves in the lead through Aaron Ramsey or Lacazette.
The Welshman danced his way past two Chelsea defenders in the box before unleashing a shot which rattled the bottom of the upright, with the rebound coming straight to Lacazette whose instinctive strike flew well over the crossbar.
An opportunity to rue as, despite a slow start, a disciplined first-half performance from Arsene Wenger's men offered the Gunners the best chances of the game before the break as Chelsea struggled to rediscover their rhythm from the start of proceedings.
Such a good half for Arsenal. Didn't expect this at all, hope we take an advantage in the second half.— Arsenal Related ⚽🔥 (@ArsenalsRelated) September 17, 2017
The tussle from the opening half picked up from it where it left off in the second as the middle third of the field saw most of the ball in the opening stages, allowing few clear cut opportunities on goal.
With an even contest on the cards both managers looked to inject a potential game changer to the fold, with Wenger the first to pull the trigger with Alexis Sanchez and Antonio Conte soon following with the introduction of Eden Hazard.
With opportunities lacking from open play, a set-piece looked the most likely avenue to goal as the game entered the final fifteen minutes, and Shkodran Mustafi thought he had finally broken the deadlock for Arsenal as he headed home Granit Xhaka's delivery, only for his celebration to be called off as the linesman's flag was raised for offside.
With the game entering the final five minutes the home side upped the ante as they continually loaded up the Arsenal box, but as with the history of this fixture a red card was shown.
David Luiz was sent off with a straight red after a reckless studs-up challenge on Sead Kolasinac, mere minutes before the end of the game.
With neither side able to break the deadlock, Chelsea remain unbeaten since the first game of the season, whilst Arsenal were able to arrest their poor form away from home with a respectable draw at the home of the champions.
Both sides are now set for a fixture-laden couple of weeks which will involve matches in the League Cup, Premier League, and in Europe.