Arriving at Stamford Bridge after defeat at Stoke City and a thrashing by Liverpool, the Gunners hit the post in the first half and saw Shkodran Mustafi’s header disallowed as they edged the better chances.
David Luiz was shown a red card for a wild tackle on Sead Kolasinac in the final stages and Arsenal ended a five-game losing streak away to the Blues.
Simon Johnson was at Stamford Bridge to assess the key talking points…
Alvaro Morata can’t bully Arsenal like Diego Costa could
From the moment Morata joined Chelsea, the comparisons with Costa began and understandably so.
Replacing Chelsea’s main frontman for the past three seasons was never going to be a straightforward task. Morata doesn’t bring as much drama and his game is a lot more subtle, relying on clever flicks and movement rather than brute strength.
The Spain international has got off to a good start to his Chelsea career and showed plenty of promising touches this afternoon too. However, there were too many periods where Arsenal’s defenders were outmuscling Chelsea’s centre-forward and not the other way around.
It means Chelsea aren’t quite as intimidating to their London rivals, which perhaps partly explains why they grew more in confidence as the game went on.
Willian will soon make way for Eden Hazard in the first XI again
Willian has started the campaign well for Chelsea as Hazard has worked on his fitness, but he might not be first choice much longer.
Antonio Conte preferred Hazard and Pedro to be the wide men for much of the title-winning campaign last term with Willian mostly on the bench but Hazard’s slow return to full match fitness following a fractured ankle in June has given Willian more chances to impress than he probably would have had.
Hazard came off the bench for a third straight game here and it won’t be long before he’s in the side again. That means one of Willian or Pedro will have to make way and given Conte’s liking for the latter, the Brazil international should be concerned.
He didn’t do enough against Arsenal and looked worried when he was substituted – for Hazard of all people.
Cesc Fabregas has had a year to forget against his former club
A title-winners’ medal will naturally make for some consolation, but Fabregas has not enjoyed facing Arsenal over the last 12 months.
Last September he was substituted early in the second half as Chelsea collapsed to a 3-0 loss at Emirates Stadium and he was booed off mercilessly. Things haven’t got much better since then. The Blues only victory in the next four competitive games was in February, a match Fabregas only contributed six minutes too.
Chelsea the lost in the FA Cup Final and the Community Shield to the Gunners, but arguably this was his most sobering experience. Fabregas played the full game, not that you’d know because a lot of it passed him by. Granted, but for a poor finish by Pedro, he would have had an assist in the first half, however that was the only highlight.
In truth he was a real liability at times, particularly before the break when Arsenal bossed midfield. Significantly, Conte moved him further forward following the interval to get him away from Chelsea’s area, where he was offering little protection.
Arsenal could no longer take advantage of his lack of pace, but he was even less of a creative force.
Chelsea’s frustrating afternoon summed up by David Luiz’s reckless tackle
After 86 minutes of seeing his Chelsea team-mates flatter to decisive in front of him, Luiz decided to take matters into his own hands. Unfortunately for the home team it was the worst possible kind of intervention as he flew into Sead Kolasinac.
You could sense a moment of madness was coming as Alexis Sanchez tried to halt the Brazilian’s run. He took Sanchez’s close attentions out on Kolasinac instead though, lunging into him over the top of the ball.
Chelsea fans reacted in fury when Referee Michael Oliver reached for the red card, but it could be argued it was a more dangerous challenge than the one Gary Cahill was punished for against Burnley on opening day.
A three-game ban will now follow, which means missing two difficult games at Stoke and at home to Manchester City. Unfortunately for Luiz, that is all people will talk about now rather than the fact he was arguably Chelsea’s best player.
Chelsea’s display shows how tough it will be for them to retain the title
This was the wrong kind of message to be sending out to their main title rivals, particularly the two Manchester clubs. It was a very underwhelming performance by the champions, one that suggests they haven’t progressed since last season.
To be relieved to get a point against a side that hasn’t won here since 2011 is not what was expected or demanded. Chelsea were lacklustre for long periods and the subdued home crowd knew it.
Conte’s men lacked invention, energy and ideas – a complete contrast to Manchester City who have scored 15 goals in the past week.
Much improvement is required, but obviously, it is still early in the season and they are in a better position than this time last year