In a largely unexpected result, there was little to separate either Chelsea or Arsenal as both side's failed to land the lethal blow to secure all three points at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. The tense affair saw Arsenal successfully execute their plan to nullify the threat of Chelsea's attacking prowess, whilst the Blues were left frustrated as they had to settle for a draw and see defender David Luiz sent off for a reckless challenge on Sead Kolasinac in the dying stages of the game. With the...
Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey have long been criticised over their ability - or lack there of - to remain as cover for their back-line against clubs within the top six. Often offering too much space to the opposition's attack after succumbing to their natural instinct to bomb forward.
However, against Chelsea the pair more than held their own against their opposite numbers in N'Golo Kante and Cesc Fàbregas, as their calmness on the ball allowed the Gunners to dictate much of the game's proceedings - a rare sight which the Arsenal faithful will be hoping to see more often on the road.
Red cards have proven to a decisive and common sight when these two sides clash as Chelsea have had a man sent off in their previous two fixtures against Arsenal, and now they have made it three as David Luiz was shown a straight red card for his reckless studs-up challenge on Sead Kolasinac in the dying stages.
The timing of Luiz's exile from the game left little for Arsenal to capitalise on but will no doubt have infuriated his manager Antonio Conte, who voiced his frustration earlier in the week at the constant appearance of the red card emerging from the referees pocket when he is opposing Wenger's side.
This time Chelsea were lucky not to have the card be a game changer, but they will need to rectify their lack of discipline if they are to successfully defend their title.
On the cusp of three away league defeats in a row, no Alexis Sanchez in the starting lineup against the reigning champions no doubt raised eyebrows but Arsene Wenger's gamble paid off.
With a stern lesson handed to the Gunners against fellow top of the table rivals Liverpool two weeks ago, the French boss opted for a more balanced starting eleven this time round as he opted for a 3-4-3 formation.
Although history showed the absence of Sanchez, and Mesut Ozil, rarely resulted in a win for Arsenal the 67-year-old stuck to his guns, and his conservative tactics showcased his ability to adapt - after-all he was only one offside flag away from securing all three points.
Eden Hazard and Alexis Sanchez were both substitutes for their respective sides on Sunday and with the game petering out in the second half their introduction within minutes of each other instantly reinvigorated both sides' attack.
Their direct play and ability to unlock defences at will raised the question of how come they weren't involved sooner. Hazard's late feature role after just returning from injury had more justification than Sanchez's late appearance, but if either manager had pulled the trigger sooner they may have just walked away with all the points on offer.
As there is no doubting their late involvement instantly upped the ante and created more chances in 15 minutes than the first 30 minutes that preceded their arrival in the second half.