Chelsea started brightly and energetically, out-running, out-pressing, out-hustling the visitors, who were forced into frequent errors early on and never quite found their rhythm ... at least in the first half.
The Blues had a half-chance inside the opening couple minutes, and our striker-less look seemed to confuse Arsenal’s center halves, who had no clear player to mark. Chelsea’s fluid front four were making things happen, and it was a Sterling cross that found Mudryk for a header, which hit the outstretched arm of a defender and was eventually given as a penalty after a video review.
Cole Palmer made no mistake, but the match was a much more even affair after that goal, which seemed to settle Arsenal down and resulted in us playing a bit more conservative. Still, Chelsea were almost entirely unbothered by anything Arsenal did in the first half, as we kept them well clear of the penalty area and only a couple self-inflicted errors gave them any sort of sniff.
The second half had Arsenal really looking for a score until they were left totally frustrated by Mykhailo Mudryk turning a cross into a goal. However a rather bad mistake from Robert Sánchez kept them alive as Declan Rice hit the target from afar as the Spanish goalkeeper walked back to his place between the posts.
Perhaps a more mature team wouldn’t have ventured forth as much as Chelsea did while holding a one-goal lead. After all it was out of the Blues’ openness at the back that Leandro Trossard got himself at the far post and scored Arsenal’s trying goal.
With Chelsea simply not knowing what “park the bus” means, Arsenal were winning almost all midfield battles to keep themselves up and chasing for a third goal. At least we were able to keep the Gunners at bay and avoid the most embarrassing comeback of recent times.
- Bit of tactical tweaking from Pochettino, with a more traditional back-four and no recognized striker. It’s unclear how much of that was by choice or by force (i.e. Disasi and Jackson not quite fit), but it worked a treat.
- Subs are Nicolas Jackson for Mykhailo Mudryk, Noni Madueke for Raheem Sterling, and Reece James for Cole Palmer.
- Chelsea in the first half showed possession is all but a number when you’re toothless in front of the goal.
- Chelsea in the second half showed possession is all but a number when you’re nervous in front of the goal... up until the goalkeeper gifts you a goal and gets you back into the game.
- Mykhailo Mudryk the difference-maker today, playing out of position and playing a direct part in both of our goals.
- Really hard not feeling bitter after blowing a two-goal lead in such an horrendous way. At the same time we have to hope this is only growing pains from a young team that played better than a league contender for a large chunk of the match.
- Next up: Brentford at home, Saturday noon.