After the shambolic display at West Brom, it was strange to see a fully-focused and energetic Arsenal take the field against Chelsea. You would guess, if you didn’t know better, that the Gunners had more time to prepare for the crunch clash than the Blues.
However, Arsenal showed it’s the quality of the preparation that counts most, as the hosts (decimated by injuries) took the game to their London rivals, not that the champions didn’t play their part in making the match extremely exciting.
Played at breakneck speed, either side could have won, but you’d have to say Arsenal deserved it more as reward for their overall domination and spirited performance.
Cortois, in the Chelsea goal, made the Blues look impenetrable and only a thunderbolt hit with accuracy was likely to beat. Wilshere produced that magic moment and it looked like the floodgates would open.
Instead of that, the referee’s shocking decision to award a penalty for Bellerin’s perceived foul on Hazard, allowed the Belgian to level. No one expects Cech to save spot kicks anymore, so penalty-takers only need to hit the target to score. Hazard duly did that.
Suddenly, Chelsea were in the ascendancy and when Alonso scored near the end, it looked like curtains for Arsenal.
Bellerin had a different idea, smashing home a late, late half-volley to send most of the spectators into raptures. It was a goal to dine out on, so I hope critics leave the Spanish wingback alone for a while.
On the other flank, Maitland-Niles was outstanding, so deserves plenty of praise.
The same praise could not be reserved for the ref, who had a shocking performance. Nevertheless, Arsenal ‘need to roll with the punches and get to what’s real’, if we must quote from a Van Halen song. Even if Wenger is right about a conspiracy against the club, he should just get on with his job.