|Declan Rice took palms from his defenders after dragging Arsenal back into the game at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea. It ended 2-2. (Photo credit: Sky Sports)|
With Manchester City and Liverpool winning earlier in the day, Arsenal needed maximum points to stay on top of the log, but Chelsea had other ideas.
Chelsea had won three games on the bounce for the first time in several months and had the uphill task of stopping the team that beat Manchester City last time out. The Blues knew they couldn’t afford to give Arsenal the chance to string passes together in dangerous areas, so they shut Arsenal out in the first half.
Arsenal started the trio of Gabriel Jesus, Bukayo Saka, and Gabriel Martinelli for the first time in the league season, and fans expected them to tick with Jorginho coming in to join Declan Rice and Martin Odegaard in the midfield.
Chelsea started stronger and were soon rewarded for their effective style in the first quarter of an hour after the VAR advised referee Chris Kavanagh to review from the monitor after William Saliba appeared to have handed the ball in the Arsenal area.
The Arsenal defender contested a header with Mykhailo Mudryk off a Raheem Staerling cross, but the ball clearly hit the arm of Saliba, and the referee obliged. After the review, Cole Palmer stepped up and fired past David Raya for 1-0.
Arsenal grew into the game, but Chelsea stood firm with their tactics. The Blues were happy to hand Arsenal as much space as they wanted in the Arsenal area, but as soon as the ball progresses to the middle, Chelsea runs out to fight and then sits back once it returns to the Arsenal area.
The second half started with so much joy for Chelsea. Mudryk had only scored his first goal for Chelsea at Fulham, but his faux cross quite early in the second half sailed over the head of Raya, and Chelsea went 2-0 up.
Whether he meant it or not is up for debate, but the Ukrainian will take the goal that offered Chelsea loads of hope. Arsenal hadn’t lost a game in the league up until that time, and it felt like Chelsea would do the honours.
Robert Sanchez had a moment of brainwave; the Spaniard’s attempted pass fell to the feet of Declan Rice, and his first-time effort found the back of the net to drag Arsenal right back into it. Chelsea became jittery and soon lost their lead.
Bukayo Saka found substitute Leandro Trossard at Sanchez’s near post, and the Belgian slotted home neatly to level matters. Arsenal upped the tempo, and Chelsea had to defend deep to protect a point that they once thought was three.