Arteta’s Arsenal rip up the script with dramatic draw at Chelsea

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020 01:00 |
Arsenal’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Martinelli (left) celebrates scoring the opening goal with team-mates Nicolas Pepe (centre) and Alexandre Lacazette during their league tie against Chelsea on Wednesday. Photo/AFP

London, Wednesday

For years, Arsenal have been labelled as pushovers, perhaps this was the night they started to brush off that tag.

Twice they came from behind at Chelsea to salvage a 2-2 draw, all whilst playing with 10 men for more than an hour after David Luiz had been sent off on Tuesday.

Arsenal have suffered at Stamford Bridge over the years, but they stood tall against all the odds to return to north London with a point.

And that point, earned by Hector Bellerin’s late equaliser, was reward for a performance packed full of character and bravery from Mikel Arteta’s side.

The writing seemed to be on the wall when Luiz was given a straight red for bringing down Tammy Abraham after just 28 minutes, especially as Jorginho rolled home the resulting penalty. But this Arsenal side ripped up the script.

They stayed in the game, rode their luck at times, and then levelled through Gabriel Martinelli midway through the second half. It’s a goal that will be replayed over and over again.

Martinelli was inside his own box when Shkodran Mustafi rose highest to head away a Chelsea corner.

Ten seconds later, he was celebrating in front of 3,000 delirious Arsenal fans at the opposite end of the pitch.

It may have needed a slip from N’Golo Kante for the Brazilian sensation to race clear, but the way he composed himself before slotting the finish past Kepa told you everything you needed to know about a teenager who just a matter of months ago was playing state football in Brazil.

“Gabi’s gonna be a superstar” predicted Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after his fellow forward scored against Sheffield United on Saturday. In a way, you could say he already is.

Martinelli has now scored 10 times this season. He’s the first teenager to hit that milestone for Arsenal since Nicolas Anelka in the 1998-99 season.

The goal was reward for the Gunners’ resistance, too, but it was also reward for Arteta’s adventurous approach.

In the aftermath of Luiz’s dismissal, he was going to replace the teenager with Rob Holding. The centre-back was stripped off and ready to come on.

However, at the last moment, Arteta changed his mind. Holding was sent back to the bench and Martinelli stayed on.

“I was thinking about that, but I don’t want to send that message to the team,” Arsenal’s head coach admitted after the game.     -GOAL

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