Last season, it was uncertainty over Arsene Wenger’ future. This season, it’s uncertainty over Arsenal’s three best players: Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere.
It’s easy to blame others when things are going wrong but, in the case of Arsene Wenger’s side, they blew several big chances against Chelsea and looked like a team who were always going to end up paying for any mistakes at the back. And, let’s be honest, defensive mistakes and Arsenal go hand in hand right now.
Results against the top six sides will be crucial if Wenger’s side are to have any chance of securing a top-four spot. However, their only win of note against a so-called rival this season was the 2-0 win over their north London rivals Tottenham in the middle of November.
That performance was clinical and organised yet Arsenal have only won five of their following 12 matches. Dominant, match-winning performances characterised by exciting attacking football are now few and far between at the Emirates – but there’s no doubt that the Gunners once again entertained in north London on Thursday.
The character and resolve shown to equalise late on after going behind warrants praise. No team has recovered more points from losing positions than Arsenal this season (12) and they proved once again that they possess the character required for salvaging points when you least expect it.
It’s also worth noting that there will be questions raised over the concession of a second penalty in two games.
The Gunners have now conceded a joint-high four penalty goals in the Premier League this season (level with Watford and West Ham) and given Wenger fumed that the decision at West Brom was a “concerning coincidence”, it was unsurprising that he described the penalty earned and converted by Eden Hazard as “farcical”.
But, at the end of the day, Arsenal afforded Hazard and his fellow Chelsea attackers a succession of clear-cut goalscoring opportunities.
Of course, Arsenal have their own exciting playmaker in Mesut Ozil, who touched the ball more than any other player on the pitch against Chelsea (105) and he once again exemplified his qualities in a sublime display of technique, balance and assurance in the final third.
However, with Arsenal winning just two of their last eight Premier League matches, taking just 11 points from a possible 24, it’s clear that their inability to kill games is going to kill their hopes of a top-four finish.