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Arsenal and Chelsea play out thrilling draw marred by controversial penalty call

Hector Bellerin scored in stoppage time to rescue a point for Arsenal in their exhilarating 2-2 draw with Chelsea at the Emirates on Wednesday night.

If there was a match that the Premier League would've wanted to advertise to the rest of world football, this was it.

Many predicted, with the number of games played over the past few weeks, that this match would be a dreary, tiresome affair. How were they wrong.

Both sides needed something from this game. Chelsea had the chance to jump up back into second place in front of Manchester United, and Arsenal desperately needed to keep in touch with fourth-placed Liverpool.

It was the visitors who had the first clear cut chance of the game, and boy was it a sitter. Spaniard Alvaro Morata was more resembling of a youth academy player being brought into the first-team than the £70m superstar Chelsea had bought from Real Madrid last summer when he was put in on goal after some typically lax Arsenal defending.

With acres of space, with plenty of time to get his feet right, to find a spot and pass the ball into the back of the net, Morata instead sprayed wide past Petr Cech. It was just the start of a terrible night for the 25-year-old.

Arsenal begun to take a stranglehold of possession and they would've turned their dominance into goals had it not been for Blues shot-stopper Thibaut Courtois. The 25-year-old stopped efforts from Alexis Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette, the latter of which bounced off both posts before the gigantic Belgian leapt on the ball.

Jack Wilshere was heavily involved in what was his sixth straight Premier League start. In fairytale fashion, the once prodigious young talent would be the one to break the deadlock.

The 25-year-old was put in on goal by Rob Holding, with a knick from Morata setting the ball up just right for him to blast home what was his first Premier League goal for Arsenal since May 24th 2015.

The atmosphere around the Emirates was palpable after one of their own got the Gunners ahead.

But positivity soon turned to vitriol when Eden Hazard was awarded a penalty just four minutes later following a challenge from Hector Bellerin. Replays showed that although Bellerin made contact with Hazard, it was minimal and hardly would have caused the Belgian to react in the way he did. It looked as though Arsene Wenger was going to explode on the sidelines.

There wasn't much doubt about the resulting penalty as Hazard cooly slotted the ball straight down the middle past Cech.

It went from bad to worse for the home side when Marcos Alonso poked home Davide Zappacosta's cross from close range to put Chelsea ahead with six minutes to go.

Fortunately for Wenger, the blood vessels in his head were stopped short of exploding when Bellerin curled home a superb equaliser in the second minute of stoppage time.

Without blinking, Chelsea were up the other end, with Morata encroaching on Cech's goal. However, his porous effort was saved by the 35-year-old, and Zappacosta's follow-up strike then crashed against the bar.

Although it was a magnificent contest for the neutral viewer, both clubs will be disappointed with the result. Arsenal now lay sixth on the table, five points behind Liverpool, while Chelsea remain one point off Manchester United in third place.

Andrew Maclean
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Andrew Maclean

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