English Premier League

Chelsea 2 – 2 Arsenal

Chelsea 2 – 2 Arsenal. Arsenal staged a stunning late fightback to earn a point at Stamford Bridge just as Chelsea looked about to enjoy their finest victory under manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Chelsea were in complete control after Cole Palmer put them ahead from the penalty spot in the 15th minutes, with William Saliba penalised for handball following the intervention of the video assistant referee.

Arsenal looked certain to slump to their first Premier League defeat of the season when Mykhailo Mudryk’s speculative effort from out wide caught Arsenal keeper David Raya stranded and out of position three minutes after the break.

Arsenal were sloppy and struggled to create anything until they were gifted a lifeline with 13 minutes left, Declan Rice sending Chelsea keeper Robert Sanchez’s poor clearance back past him into the net.

And, remarkably, they were level seven minutes later when substitute Leandro Trossard made a decisive first contribution, stealing in at the far post to score as Chelsea hesitated in dealing with Bukayo Saka’s cross.

Arsenal will be delighted to have secured a point at Chelsea after struggling for their usual fluency. The Gunners deserve full credit for sticking in there to maintain their unbeaten Premier League run with a result that looked unlikely for most of the game.

Manager Mikel Arteta was berating his players regularly for their carelessness, but there can be no questions about their character as they snatched a point with that late rally.

It was not a display without question marks, though, and the biggest will be over David Raya’s poor performance in goal.

Arteta took a big decision when he replaced long-time first choice and England keeper Aaron Ramsdale with his summer signing from Brentford for the visit to Everton in September.

For all Arteta’s talk of competition for places, it is clear he was installing the 28-year-old Spain international as his main keeper and much was riding on his choice.

It is a move that has not yet worked as Arteta hoped, with Raya looking uncertain in recent games, at fault for a goal in the Champions League defeat away to Lens and getting away with moments of hesitation in the win against Manchester City.

Here, he cut a nervous figure throughout and was embarrassed when he was caught badly out of position as Mykhailo Mudryk’s delivery from the left flew over his head for Chelsea’s second.

Raya almost made matters worse when he passed the ball straight to Cole Palmer in front of goal shortly afterwards, but Chelsea let him off the hook.

Arteta appears to have backed Raya but certainly needs the keeper to start performing better – and quickly – to deliver any sort of convincing case that he is a genuine upgrade on Ramsdale.

Chelsea looked like winners of this game for so long that to let it slip so late and so carelessly will almost feel like a defeat for Mauricio Pochettino and his players.

For long periods, Chelsea impressed and looked like a side finally heading in the right direction after a horrendous period on and off the pitch.

The goals from Palmer and Mudryk looked to have them on course for a third successive league win as Chelsea produced their best performance since Pochettino was appointed in the summer.

Mudryk looked like a player with increasing confidence, while Moises Caicedo was doing that understated but so effective job as a holding midfield man which persuaded Chelsea to pay Brighton £115m to secure his services.

Ironically, given Raya’s struggles in the Arsenal goal, it was the poor clearance from his opposite number Sanchez that gifted Rice the goal that changed the whole emphasis and tone of the game.

Those in blue at Stamford Bridge were suddenly nervous, Arsenal were invigorated, and the equaliser soon came from Trossard.

There was so much to admire in this Chelsea performance, and when the disappointment subsides Pochettino may be able to appreciate this, but there is no doubt the dramatic conclusion here at Stamford Bridge provided a bitter pill for the home side to swallow.

Source – BBC

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