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.
James Olley was at Stamford Bridge to assess the key talking points…
A draw almost represents a win for Wenger
Arsenal had chances to win this but given their status as underdogs and the potential repercussions of another heavy defeat, a 0-0 draw may just feel like a win for Wenger.
The Gunners’ record against the top six away from home since January 2015 read before kick-off: Played 13 Won 0 Drawn 5 Lost 8 Scored 15 Conceded 30 Pts 5.
Many of those performances included weak capitulations which drew accusations of a fractured dressing room or even players unwilling to give their all for the manager but here Wenger got the performance he demanded beforehand.
This display is likely to become a reference point for Wenger when he is required to defend his team in future and will feel like a building block upon which Arsenal can push for a place in the top four.
A glimpse of life without Sanchez and Ozil
During Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil’s time at the club, Arsenal have never won a Premier League game in which both did not start.
With the pair currently running down the final year of their existing contracts, the Gunners may have to get used to their absence in big matches next year and here was a glimpse of life without them.
It was surprising just how promising it looked, particularly in the first half when Arsenal were well organised, disciplined and grew in confidence as the 45 minutes wore on.
The Gunners lacked a little stardust in the final third but the priority here was to show more fundamental qualities of work ethic and fight – Wenger’s side could not be faulted in that regard this time.
Ramsey and Xhaka show some midfield steel
Arsenal’s central midfield pairing were heavily criticised for their acquiescence in defeat at Liverpool last month but they overcame a nervous start to help nullify Chelsea and give the Gunners a foothold in the game.
At half-time, Ramsey and Xhaka had made six tackles and four interceptions. N’Golo Kante and Cesc Fabregas had made three tackles and two interceptions. Their effectiveness prompted Antonio Conte to make a chance at half-time – an unusual step for the Italian – by introducing Tiemoue Bakayoko.
Fabregas was pushed further forward and although Bakayoko brought additional resolve to Chelsea’s midfield, it was not enough to tip the balance in the home side’s favour and that is to Ramsey and Xhaka’s credit.
Mustafi silences his doubters
Arsenal’s late attempt to sell Shkodran Mustafi to Inter Milan was one of the more curious stories of the summer transfer window. Mustafi had a mixed debut season in England following his £35million move from Valencia but it was still a surprise that Wenger considered moving him on so quickly.
Mustafi has so far refused to discuss the details but he did his talking on the pitch here by winning a hard-fought battle with Chelsea’s lone striker, Alvaro Morata.
Morata eventually got booked for a foul on Mustafi as his frustration got the better of him. There was some doubt as to whether Mustafi would be in Wenger’s preferred back three alongside Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal. Not anymore.
Lacazette is still a work in progress
If Olivier Giroud had missed an open goal from six yards out in a big game as Alexandre Lacazette did in the first half here, the condemnation would have been deafening.
Lacazette has made a bright start to life in the Premier League and conclusive judgements are premature but then again, a £52.7million striker is bought to take chances like that.
He did not start in Arsenal’s previous big away game at Liverpool but having done so here, his 66th-minute withdrawal felt like an implicit acknowledgment Lacazette was ineffective. He is a work in progress but that has to rank as a disappointment.
Giroud, who stayed at the club because he felt able to compete with Lacazette for a place in the starting line-up, will privately be encouraged