Arsenal stunned Chelsea as they came back to clinch a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge.
Goals either side of half time from Cole Palmer and Mykhailo Mudryk were not enough for a dominant Chelsea to see off Arsenal, who levelled late on through a quickfire double from Declan Rice and Leandro Trossard to seal a point in a fiery London derby.
Chelsea started brightly in the rain at Stamford Bridge, with Enzo Fernandez blasting over an early opening for the Blues.
The hosts took the lead in the 15th minute courtesy of a Palmer penalty. After a lengthy VAR delay, the spot kick was awarded after William Saliba’s outstretched arm blocked a Mudryk header in the box, with Palmer keeping his cool to slot past David Raya in the Arsenal goal.
Palmer nearly doubled the Blues lead on the half hour mark, blasting a sweeping effort narrowly past Raya’s far post.
Chelsea finished the half strongly with Fernandez and Malo Gusto firing efforts at Raya.
The west Londoners started the second half in even better fashion, with Mudryk doubling his teams’ lead in the 48th minute. Chelsea pressed the Gunners brilliantly in midfield, with Conor Gallagher emerging with the ball before feeding Mudryk, who’s attempted cross wrongfooted Raya, looping over the goalkeepers head and into the back of the net.
Chelsea nearly scored a third after another howler from Raya allowed Palmer in on goal, however he recovered well to deny the Englishman his second goal of the game.
The Blues looked to be coasting to victory, but a howler from their own goalkeeper allowed Rice to put Arsenal back into the match in the 77th minute. Robert Sanchez lackadaisical pass out from the back was pounced on by Rice who swept the ball into an empty net.
The Gunners equalised soon after, with Trossard poking home at the back post from Bukayo Saka’s cross to send the away fans into bedlam.
Both sides pushed for a winner in added time, but neither could find a way through as it ended all square between the London rivals.
Here are five things Absolute Chelsea learnt from the draw.
1) Bright display dampened by result.
For 77 minutes at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea were by far the better team against their London rivals Arsenal, unfortunately for the Blues football is a 90 minute game, and they were duly punished for their errors with two points dropped.
Chelsea were coasting to what would have been a landmark win against Arsenal before Sanchez gifted them a way back into the game, with the Blues inexperience showing as a quickfire double from their rivals left Stamford Bridge stunned.
Chelsea played incredibly well and can take many positives from their display, but again errors and inexperience cost Mauricio Pochettino’s men from picking up the amount of points they deserved.
2) Pochettino shows tactical flexibility
After largely lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation so far this season, Pochettino sprung a few surprises at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening, lining up without a recognised striker in a hybrid 4-4-2 formation.
Palmer and Gallagher acted as false strikers for their team, bamboozling the Arsenal defence with their relentless pressing and fluid positioning. The formation change showed Pochettino’s willingness and ability to adapt his tactics to outwit his opposition, winning the battle of the minds against Mikel Arteta on this occasion.
Arsenal really struggled to deal with Chelsea’s awkward shape, with the Blues putting in a well drilled performance, clearly executing the plan given to them, which Pochettino and his staff must be given credit for. It was only a howler from Sanchez that allowed Arsenal back into the match.
3) New penalty taker emerges
It was ironic that it was whilst Chelsea’s former penalty talisman Jorginho was on the pitch, that a new one seemingly emerged in Palmer.
After netting from the spot before the international break against Burnley, it was Palmer who stepped up again for the Blues and was yet again successful. There was a lot more pressure on Palmer to convert against Arsenal than there was at Turf Moor, yet he showed real composure to roll the ball past an already committed Raya to give his team the lead.
There was a slight scuffle with Raheem Sterling and Fernandez over who should take responsibility of the penalty, but Palmer emerged victorious, showing maturity beyond his years to step up for his team. Palmer will remain the designated taker if he continues in a similar vein; he may be the heir to Jorginho’s spot kick throne.
4) Mudryk continues to improve
After goals before, and during the international break, Mudryk continued to grow in stature, with another goal and promising display against Arsenal.
Although Mudryk was lucky to score from what was likely an attempted cross, it will no doubt further boost the young wingers blossoming confidence. Mudryk arguably earned his luck after putting in an industrious performance for his team, not least to catch up to Gallagher when he received the ball to score his goal, after helping win the ball back in his own half initially.
Mudryk is starting to put together some consistent performances, whilst also showing vast improvement in his tactical work too, which is a very promising prospect for Chelsea fans.
5) Reece James returns
After not featuring since the opening day against Liverpool, Chelsea’s new captain Reece James made his return against Arsenal in what was his 100th Premier League appearance.
Unfortunately for James it was not a happy return, with his team capitulating late on to allow Arsenal a point, however it was a heartening site for Blues fans to see their captain back on the pitch.
James will have to show his captaincy skills both on and off the pitch in the next few weeks to help his side move on from their dramatic draw with Arsenal.
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