Back at the bridge, on the back of an important away win at Leicester last Saturday, and then a 6-0 victory on Tuesday night in the Champions League. We came into this game with confidence, and rightly so.
The first issue to get through was the District Line. No issues, and we headed to Fulham Broadway. But with recent events last week, with the Parsons Green incident, security was expected to be ramped up and tightened, following a statement from the club to arrive early. Walking to the ground, police were visible and the outer ring of stewarding and security looked promising. I showed them my ticket and they let me through. Now to get through the check to gain entry into the stand. Two stewards to check supporters bags etc. I thought there was meant to be more thorough checks, evidently not. After all, they only work to get paid. They aren’t really interested otherwise.
Back to the game though, I arrived to my seat, and kick-off was fast approaching. I was expecting goals, hence why I predicted a 3-1 win. Mind you, our recent record against Arsenal, I should have expected otherwise.
Seen the line-ups. Not surprised but disappointed. The last few weeks, Tottenham, Everton and Leicester, we’ve played 3-5-1-1 and this week Conte decided to go back to the 3-4-3. Why fix a problem when there isn’t one. Packing out the midfield is what was needed, and it worked. We’ve had issues with Arsenal overrunning us in the midfield in the FA Cup Final and the Community Shield with a two-man midfield. Surely, we would’ve looked at that and learnt our lesson.
We started ever so brightly in the opening exchanges, but the visitors soon took control. We had one clear-cut chance in the first half, and it fell to Pedro. A ball through the middle from Fabregas, but the Spaniard decided to try and chip Petr Cech, in which the former Blue came out on top. It looked like a poor first touch, but why he decided to try and dink one of the tallest goalies, I don’t know. The miss proved to be costly, and from then on, Arsenal went on top.
Arsenal went very close with Welbeck’s header just over the bar. You could sense a goal was coming. Courtois then did well to save Lacazette’s shot, and at this moment it was backs to the wall.
We were crying out for another central midfielder, and Ramsey highlighted it. We somehow allowed him to travel through several players, and let him get a shot away, which luckily found its way on to the far post, much to the relief of the home support.
We needed the half time whistle and something had to change.
Rush to the queues in the concourses to get food and drink. Stick to my normal order, a hot dog, first one this season. And what a surprise, up 40p. £4.80 for something which gets smaller every year but I was there so it had to be paid.
Players emerged from the tunnel and something I certainly called for and I’m sure others did, the arrival of Tiemoue Bakayoko onto the field, replacing Pedro, in what we thought was a tactical change, but Conte confirmed after the game, that it was because Pedro couldn’t continue.
Second half gets underway!
Bakayoko impressed since coming on, and squashed pressure, but discipline continued to be an issue as Arsenal were awarded another free-kick in a good position. Xhaka delivered and I knew it was offside straight away, it fell to Mustafi who headed past Courtois to what the away end thought they lead. One fan leapt out of the away section onto the pitch only to find the flag raised. A ban incoming for him, all for nothing. A moment for the Chelsea faithful to cheer, with nothing else to be excited about.
Hazard was introduced once again, and he sparked Chelsea attacks, and managed to find a chance. Cut inside and fired a shot which Cech claimed. He almost always drills shots into the low corners but on this occasion a lifted one. On the floor and into the corner, we would have led, not that we deserved all three points out of this one.
But the real talking point came when the game was coming to an end. David Luiz, one of the more experienced players in the Chelsea side, had a moment of madness. A run, being chased down by Sanchez who had come on at this point, and frustration got the better of him, and he lunged into Kolasinac forcing Michael Oliver to brandish a red card almost immediately. You could see it happening a mile off when he was swinging his arms around at the Chilean and although I couldn’t didn’t have the best view on it, you could clearly see it was a dangerous challenge, and he was potentially lucky to still be on the field at that point after his yellow earlier on, on Koscielny, which to me looked like nothing in real-time, but replays show Luiz was potentially fortunate not to be given a red earlier on.
Full Time and it ended 0-0.
Chelsea were fortunate to come away with even a point, albeit Chelsea had a wonderful opportunity to take the lead. It was flat all over today, something which doesn’t occur often at the Bridge, particularly on a derby day, but it ended in a draw, and we look to Wednesday where we face Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup.
See you there!