English Premier League
Result: Arsenal 2-2 Chelsea
Date: 3 January 2018
Venue: Emirates Stadium
Arsenal and Chelsea played to a thrilling 2-2 draw at the Emirates on Wednesday in a Premier League London derby that was littered with controversy.
The Gunners received a boost ahead of kick-off as Mesut Özil recovered sufficiently from a knee injury in time to start.
However, the real lucky break for Arsène Wenger’s side came in the 14th minute, when Álvaro Morata let them off the hook with an embarrassing miss. The Spaniard got in behind the Arsenal defence and latched onto a long ball from Victor Moses, but with all the time in the world to shoot, he rolled the ball wide of Petr Čech’s post.
Arsenal could hardly have come any closer to making Chelsea pay than they did two minutes later, when Alexis Sánchez forced a tremendous save from Thibaut Courtois, who tipped the ball onto his right post. It then bounced off and hit the other, leaving the Blues counting their lucky stars.
The Gunners could arguably have had a penalty in the build-up to that strike. Ainsley Maitland-Niles went down in the box claiming to have been clipped by Victor Moses, but referee Anthony Taylor was unmoved.
Both sides continued to create chances throughout the first half, with Alexandre Lacazette forcing another fine Courtois save in the 23rd minute before Čech palmed Tiemoué Bakayoko’s shot away four minutes later. However, the teams went into the break deadlocked at 0-0.
Antonio Conte’s side started the second half brightly, with Čech denying Eden Hazard and Marcos Alonso in quick succession in the 50th minute.
Arsenal nevertheless continued to make their presence felt at the other end, with Courtois blocking Lacazette’s shot two minutes afterwards.
The Gunners slowly took control again and drew first blood in the 63rd minute, when Jack Wilshere got on the end of a deflected pass inside the box and rifled the ball into the net with his first touch.
Wilshere was arguably lucky to still be on the pitch, as he could easily have picked up a second yellow card for simulation minutes earlier. However, Chelsea were about to be awarded their own slice of good fortune by Anthony Taylor.
The Blues were awarded a penalty in the 66th minute after Héctor Bellerín caught Eden Hazard inside the box. The Belgian made the most of the contact and Taylor certainly won’t have made himself many friends at the Emirates for giving the spot-kick.
Hazard stepped up to the spot and made no mistake, levelling the scores.
In the 84th minute, Alonso scored what looked like the winner for the Blues as he got on the end of a Davide Zappacosta cross and turned the ball into the net to complete a thrilling comeback.
However, there was to be another twist. Alonso headed the ball into Bellerín’s path and he smashed the ball into the net with a stunning half-volley from inside the box to steal a vital point in the race for the top four.