17th of September 2017

Points are shared as Cech hold Blues at The Bridge (0-0)

Chelsea drew a home game for the first time under Antonio Conte as an even London derby ended goalless at the Bridge. Pedro had our best chance of the day, midway through the first half, but he was denied by Petr Cech, while Aaron Ramsey went closest for Arsenal, hitting the post.

If our visitors probably edged things before the half-time whistle, Chelsea were on top for the most part once play resumed but found clear opportunities at a premium. Eden Hazard, introduced for the final 20 minutes, forced Cech into a decent save late on.

Before time was up, David Luiz was dismissed for a late tackle but Antonio Conte’s 10 men faced no major scares thereafter and so, for the first time under his stewardship, the game finished goalless and we picked up a point at home.

We return to the Bridge on Wednesday as our Carabao Cup campaign gets underway.

Gary Cahill returned after serving his domestic suspension, and Willian replaced Tiemoue Bakayoko from the side that won at Leicester last weekend. Cesc Fabregas dropped back into the centre of midfield.

Arsenal, also in midweek European action, made one change from their last league outing a week ago, Alex Iwobi selected in place of the unavailable Mesut Ozil.

Chelsea started full of vim and vigour as we looked to assert our authority in a fixture that has treated us well in recent years. Victor Moses forced Cech to dive and catch a cross, and then a low Pedro effort was held by our former keeper. Inside five minutes he was called into action again, kicking a Fabregas cross-shot behind after we neatly worked a corner short.

Arsenal weren’t afraid to show their attacking intentions, too, and they created a couple of decent openings before the quarter-hour mark. Hector Bellerin was the supplier on both occasions, with his first delivery headed wide by Danny Welbeck, and his second fired goalwards by Alexandre Lacazette. Thibaut Courtois got down low to save that effort, as he did when Sead Kolasinac tried his luck from further out.

The Blues’ standout opportunity of the half followed on 21 minutes. Pedro had just required treatment but showed no ill-effects of it as he took Fabregas’s outstanding, defence-splitting pass in his stride with plenty of green grass to run into, and only Cech to beat. He took his time before getting his shot away, though, and when it did arrive the keeper stood tall and blocked.

There was a good pace to proceedings throughout the half with both teams committed to attack, even if the speed of the play occasionally compromised ball retention.

It was after we had struggled to retain possession that the visitors created their best chances before the break. Aaron Ramsey slipped his way past a couple of challenges inside our box and prodded a shot against the post. The rebound bounced up to Lacazette who volleyed wastefully high and wide.

But the warning had been served, and after a bright start Antonio Conte would have known his team had to improve after the interval.

With that in mind, the boss made a change before play restarted, introducing Bakayoko for Pedro. The Frenchman lined up alongside his compatriot Kante, and so Fabregas shifted forward.

Willian had an early sighter that Cech saved, and the Brazilian was then so nearly slipped in by Morata after he exquisitely turned Mustafi.

David Luiz was the first man into the ref’s notebook on 52 minutes, punished for a high kick on Koscielny inside the six-yard box. Bakayoko then displayed all his strength, speed and skill, turning defence into attack in the blink of an eye. He found Alonso whose shot was blocked.

His opposite left wing-back, Kolasinac, got the ball caught under his feet having exchanged passes with Welbeck and driven goalwards. An hour had passed.

The contest entered something of a lull and by the time 20 minutes remained, both bosses had brought their trump card on. Alexis Sanchez took Lacazette’s place and then it was Hazard’s turn to enter the fray, replacing Willian. The Belgian moved alongside Morata in attack, with Fabregas dropping deeper making it a midfield three.

Arsenal had the ball in the net on 75 minutes but Mustafi was clearly offside and the flag raised.

Many inside Stamford Bridge thought Hazard was about to legitimately open the scoring at the end of a dazzling run, but Cech plucked his 20-yard strike out of the sky.

Moses had a volley blocked as an Arsenal shirt once again threw their body in the line of fire, before the Blues were reduced to 10 men against this opposition for the third game running. David Luiz, earlier booked, was shown a straight red for a late challenge on Kolasinac in front of the dugouts, although it looked like Sanchez had fouled him in the build-up to it.

That was the last noteworthy action of an entertaining afternoon that both sides will feel they might have got more from.


- Match stats:

Chelsea (3-4-3): Courtois; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill (c); Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian (Hazard 
Booked David Luiz 52, Morata 65

Sent off David Luiz 87

Arsenal (3-4-3): Cech; Mustafi, Koscielny (c), Monreal; Bellerin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Kolasinac; Iwobi (Elneny 80), Welbeck (Giroud 73), Lacazette (Sanchez 66).

Booked Elneny 84, Kolasinac 90+1, Bellerin 90+3

Referee Michael Oliver

Crowd 41,478

- Match report by chelseafc.com

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