David Luiz was sent off late on for Chelsea as Arsenal earn a deserved point against the reigning champions.
Defender Luiz received a straight red card for a late challenge on Sead Kolasinac in the 87th minute after the Gunners had earlier had Shkodran Mustafi’s headed goal disallowed.
The Blues’ best chance came from Pedro, who poked wide in the first half.
The result ended Arsenal’s five-match losing streak in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge.
It was the first goalless draw between these two sides since April 2005, and Chelsea’s first at home in 16 months.
Excellent Arsenal show real steel
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger insisted the debacle of the 4-0 loss at Liverpool in August – a performance that provoked fierce criticism of both manager and players – was an “accident”.
The words were greeted with cynicism by those who had been at the scene of identical Arsenal ‘accidents’ at Anfield three times in the past four years and wondered whether Wenger was again at odds with the reality of the Gunners’ plight.
Arsenal’s display on Sunday, full of steel and discipline as well as attacking intent, gave the Frenchman’s theory plenty of weight as they stood toe-to-toe with the champions and were the better side for spells.
The trick now is for Arsenal to provide further evidence that this excellent performance – at a ground which has been a stage of unrelenting misery is recent years – is the rule and the display at Anfield is the exception.
Wenger’s team selection was an improvement on the fiasco of Anfield, where Alexandre Lacazette and Kolasinac were inexplicably left out when threat and physical presence were essential.
Arsenal’s manager cut an agitated figure in his technical area for much of the game, spending time in dialogue with the officials nearby, but there was much for Wenger to be satisfied with as they more than matched Chelsea.
Luiz continues Mane debate
Luiz was shown a straight red card for his reckless challenge on Kolasinac near the touchline with only three minutes left.
And yet the Brazil international may have feared dismissal earlier in the half when his flying overhead kick caught Laurent Koscielny near the face in the penalty area – before referee Michael Oliver issued a yellow card.
The incident revived the debate sparked by Sadio Mane’s dismissal for Liverpool at Manchester City last Saturday, when his high boot injured keeper Ederson.
Social media was instantly alive, especially with Reds fans highlighting what they regarded as an injustice.
Jon Moss was the referee at Etihad Stadium and was clearly implementing the law that says: “Serious foul play – a tackle or challenge that endangers the safety of an opponent or uses excessive force…”
Oliver clearly deemed this not to be the case with Luiz’s challenge on Koscielny – but it will not stop the debate.
Chelsea left frustrated
The Blues have recovered impressively with four straight wins after the opening-day home defeat by Burnley – but Stamford Bridge was seething with frustration at the final whistle here.
Arsenal were clearly the happier side, although they will feel irritated they could not get three points as Chelsea were kept out with a performance containing a resilience the Gunners are often accused of lacking.
Pedro wasted Chelsea’s best chance, while Alvaro Morata showed plenty of good touches but also a willingness to go to ground too easily under physical challenges.
The hosts’ mood was summed up by manager Antonio Conte’s animated fury in the closing moments, especially after Luiz’s red card.
It was not the best of the days for the champions.
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