Arsenal allowed their cross-city nemeses Chelsea to pick three points in the most emphatic fashion as the Blues had their best game of the calendar year, thanks to a goal from the man, whom they would least fancy scoring in the Blues’ matchday squad.
Arsene Wenger made just a single change from the team that drew with Stoke City last weekend, with Mesut Ozil, who missed the Britannia Stadium trip with a minor foot inflammation, replacing the underperforming Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who ironically bears the pride of being the last Arsenal player to have thwarted a Chelsea shot-stopper.
The home side had a brilliant start to the game with Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud combining to cause all sorts of havoc early on in the game and they appeared to be in contention to claim their first league victory over the outgoing champions since thrashing an Andre Villas-Boas managed Chelsea in 2011.
On 18 minutes, Per Mertesacker was shown a straight red by referee Andre Marriner following his tackle on the Diego Costa, who, much to the dismay of Arsenal faithful, guided a Branislav Ivanovic into the net three minutes later.
However, the Community Shield holders denied playing like a ten-man team without an out-and-out striker on the pitch as they created more chances than what would have been expected of them, though Mesut Ozil desperately missed his prime receiver in Olivier Giroud, who was sacrificed for Gabriel Paulista early into the game.
Arsenal supporters should be proud of the performance of their lads as they worked their socks to find an equaliser. Given the fact that Alexis Sanchez has returned, they could be positive as title hopes are still alive in this topsy-turvy season. SoccerSouls rates the performance of the Arsenal players, who showed grit and determination until the final whistle.
Petr Cech 6 – Hardly tested by his former teammates, and his distribution stood out as always.
Hector Bellerin 6 – Had a decent game, making a few exciting runs.
Laurent Koscielny 5 – Partly deserved the blame for the Chelsea goal, and was lucky not to have conceded a penalty for the Francesc Fabregas incident.
Per Mertesacker 4 – Should have handled the situation a little bit better given his experience, but looked edgy from the start.
Nacho Monreal 5.5 – Denied letting Willian to dominate, but did not stop him much either.
Mathieu Flamini 4.5 – Dressed up as Steven Caulker in the absence of a centre-forward only to squander three goal-scoring opportunities.
Aaron Ramsey 6 – Cleared a header off the line, and was embroiled in lively link-up play.
Joel Campbell 5.5 – Failed to match the expectations he had set for himself.
Alexis Sanchez 6 – Had a good game after a long-term absence and could have set the Emirates Stadium abuzz with ten outfield players.
Mesut Ozil 5.5 – Worked his socks off, but struggled against physical opponents.
Theo Walcott 5.5 – Had a chance that he would have converted on another day and would likely not celebrate his ten-year anniversary at the club the way he would have wanted to.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 6 – Should have done better with his shot towards the tail end, but otherwise looked threatening.
Olivier Giroud 6 – Might have added to his goal tally given his lively start, and looked frustrated when called back to the dugout.