Morata's misses haunt Chelsea as Blues settle for 2-2 draw at Arsenal
Chelsea ended their run of festive fixtures with a highly eventful 2-2 draw at Arsenal on Wednesday.
The Blues could have been two up inside the first 15 minutes only for Alvaro Morata to fluff his lines on both occasions. The Spaniard missed the target when through on goal and then ailed to connect with a beautifully weighted cross from Moses. Arsenal then grew into the game and drew two brilliant saves out of Thibaut Courtois with the first from Alexis Sanchez being tipped onto one post, rebounding off the other and then back into the Belgian's arms.
The deadlock was broken in the second half after a period of Arsenal pressure when Jack Wilshere -- who should have been sent off minutes earlier -- fired an unstoppable shot beyond Courtois. That woke Chelsea up, who went straight down the other end and won a penalty, Eden Hazard converting after being felled by Hector Bellerin.
Morata chipped another great chance over the bar before Marcos Alonso thought he had won it when he tapped in with six minutes remaining. The Blues sat back and Arsenal equalised two minutes into stoppage time through Bellerin, but there was still time for Morata to miss yet another one-on-one and for Davide Zappacosts to hit the bar from the rebound.
The back three coped well with the pace and poise of Arsenal's attacking trio of Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette despite some questionable protection in front of them. The way Chelsea raised their game after falling behind was impressive and they will be wondering how they did not win the match.
Referee Anthony Taylor. Failed to issue Wilshere with a second yellow card for a clear dive with half an hour left, a decision that ultimately changed the outcome of the game. Just one of several glaring errors from the official. From Chelsea's perspective, the failure to take gilt-edged chances cost them victory.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- The team setup was correct through at times the midfield shape was distorted by the pace of the game. The substitutions worked well with both Willian and Zappacosta making a decisive impact.
Player ratings (1-10, 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Thibaut Courtois, 9 -- Magnificent display. Made three of the best saves you could ever see with Sanchez and Lacazette left scratching their heads at how they didn't score.
DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 8 -- A solitary error almost allowed Arsenal in midway through the second half but otherwise he made several vital interceptions. He cut out crosses, blocked shots and stepped into the tackle excellently.
DF Andreas Christensen, 8 -- Used the ball well and showed similar intelligence in reading the runs of the Arsenal forwards. Cut out a cross late on that looked destined to land at the feet of an unmarked Sanchez.
DF Gary Cahill, 7 -- Was tested by the pace of Bellerin and the movement of Ozil but used his experience to negate their threat.
MF Victor Moses, 6 -- Was reasonably solid in defence though offered little going the other way. There was one good early cross but that was about it.
MF N'Golo Kante, 7 -- An up-and-down game for the Frenchman. Was bypassed several times by Arsenal's movement but also executed one magnificent tackle on Ozil and made several dynamic surges upfield.
MF Tiemoue Bakayoko, 6 -- Seemed confused from a positional point of view and didn't always afford the appropriate protection. Was better in possession, clipping a lovely ball from which an Alonso header tested Petr Cech.
MF Cesc Fabregas, 8 -- Was defensively diligent, stepping in and winning several tackles. Used the ball well as usual with one defence-splitting pass playing in Hazard.
MF Marcos Alonso, 7 -- Had his hands full defensively though still found time to get forward. Almost scored with a header before his instinctive front-post run saw him put Chelsea ahead.
FW Eden Hazard, 8 -- Despite being full of tricks and flicks it looked like being a frustrating night for him until he won and scored the penalty. A constant menace, it was surprising to see him withdrawn.
FW Alvaro Morata, 5 -- On another day the Spaniard could easily have netted four. Must be credited for his hard work and desire to get into goalscoring positions but his finishing was woeful and was the difference between one point and all three.
DF Davide Zappacosta, 8 -- Did well being introduced into the middle of a pulsating London derby. Created Alonso's goal with an excellent cross and his fierce strike almost won it at the last moment.
MF Danny Drinkwater, NR -- Came on for Fabregas and kept things simple without pulling up any trees.
FW Willian, NR -- Began the move for Chelsea's second with a smart turn and sumptuous crossfield pass.
Phil is one of ESPN's Chelsea bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter @PhilLythell.