Arsenal 2-2 Chelsea: Hector Bellerin equaliser rescues Gunners
By Jack Wilkinson at Emirates Stadium
Last Updated: 04/01/18 8:50am
Hector Bellerin's 92nd-minute equaliser rescued a point for Arsenal in a thrilling 2-2 draw with Chelsea at the Emirates.
Marcos Alonso's 84th-minute strike looked to have secured a vital three points for the champions, but Bellerin struck deep into stoppage-time as the points were shared.
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Jack Wilshere's first Premier League goal since May 2015 had fired the Gunners into a deserved 63rd-minute lead, but Eden Hazard hauled Chelsea level from the penalty spot four minutes later.
The result sees Chelsea and Arsenal remain third and sixth in the Premier League, with both teams missing the chance to leapfrog Manchester United and Tottenham respectively.
Arsenal: Cech (7), Holding (6), Mustafi (6), Chambers (5), Bellerin (7), Xhaka (6), Wilshere (7), Maitland-Niles (6), Ozil (8), Sanchez (7), Lacazette (6).
Subs: Walcott (5), Welbeck (5).
Chelsea: Courtois (8), Cahill (6), Christensen (6), Azpilicueta (6), Moses (5), Kante (6), Bakayoko (5), Alonso (7), Fabregas (6), Hazard (8), Morata (6).
Subs: Drinkwater (5), Zappacosta (6), Willian (5).
Man of the Match: Eden Hazard.
Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil were chief tormentors to the Chelsea defence in a pulsating first half, but the game's first chance fell to Alvaro Morata, who fired woefully wide on 14 minutes after misjudgement from Calum Chambers released him on goal.
The game then burst into life on 17 minutes. Seconds after an Ainsley-Maitland Niles penalty appeal was declined, Thibaut Courtois tipped a fierce Sanchez drive onto both posts before smothering the rebound.
The Belgium international was in inspired form, denying Alexandre Lacazette's low effort at full stretch. His counterpart Petr Cech, meanwhile, had to be alert to tip Tiemoue Bakayoko's rasping effort over on 28 minutes.
Ozil flashed a shot inches wide on 39 minutes before Cesc Fabregas' curling effort drifted wide on the stroke of half-time, after which Cech was on hand to deny Hazard's low effort and Alonso's header in quick succession.
Arsenal soon regained the initiative, though, with Lacazette drawing another save from Courtois before his resolve was finally broken by Wilshere's thunderous near-post drive on 63 minutes.
However, the Gunners' lead lasted just four minutes as Bellerin was penalised for a foul in the area on Hazard, and the Belgian dusted himself down to haul Chelsea level from the spot.
Morata fired over on 71 minutes and a deflected N'Golo Kante shot narrowly missed the target as the champions pushed for a second, which came when Alonso poked Davide Zappacosta's cross home from close range.
Back came Arsenal in a thrilling finale as Bellerin's whipped effort flashed past Courtois in stoppage-time, but the Gunners almost lost it again as Cech thwarted Morata before Zappacosta thundered the rebound against the crossbar in the dying seconds.
Mesut Ozil, Rob Holding and Ainsley Maitland-Niles were recalled as Arsene Wenger made three changes following the Gunners’ 1-1 draw at West Brom. Cesc Fabregas started against his former club and Eden Hazard returned for Chelsea after sitting out their 5-0 thrashing of Stoke, two of four changes made by Antonio Conte.
- Arsenal have avoided defeat against Chelsea in their two league meetings of the season (D2) for the first time since 2011/12.
- Antonio Conte has enjoyed just one victory in his six meetings with the Gunners in all competitions since the start of last season (D3 L2).
- This game was Arsene Wenger's 60th meeting with Chelsea in all competitions - making them the side he's faced the most as Arsenal boss (W22 D17 L21).
- Jack Wilshere scored his first goal in his last 43 Premier League games, since netting against West Brom in May 2015.
- Each of the 14 penalties Petr Cech has faced in the Premier League with Arsenal has been scored.
- Since the start of last season, Marcos Alonso has been directly involved in 16 Premier League goals (12 goals, 4 assists), four more than any other defender.
- Hector Bellerin bagged his first goal in his last 22 Premier League games, since netting at the tail-end of last season against Everton.
Arsene Wenger: "It was a fantastic football game. Overall I believe it could have gone both ways, the regret we have is that we were first on the scoring sheet. After that, we got again a farcical decision and mentally we were shocked. Then we could have lost the game but we had the resources to come back, and in the end maybe it's a fair result."
Antonio Conte: "It's a pity because when you have so many chances to score, you must win the game. But instead we are talking about a draw. It's a good draw against a good team, but in this game, we deserved to win. I think we must be disappointed; me and my players. Today we had a good chance to win. This is football, and we must accept the final result."
Man of the Match - Eden Hazard
Restored to the Chelsea line-up after sitting out against Stoke, Hazard returned fresh, fit and with a vengeance. On a night where so many performed well, the Belgium international just edged ahead of his peers with a scintillating display.
He tormented the Gunners back line, transiting defence to attack in a blink of an eye. His guile in the area to win and convert a penalty so nearly inspired a comeback victory and, while Bellerin's equaliser may have shared the points, the spotlight belonged to Hazard.
Arsenal and Chelsea travel to Nottingham Forest and Norwich respectively in the third round of the FA Cup this weekend, before the two sides lock horns again in their Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at Stamford Bridge, live on Sky Sports Football on January 10.
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