After a few beers around Earls Court and Gloucester Road, we went down to the tube platform for the short hop to Fulham Broadway. The tube was packed as you’d expect with 45 minutes until kick off, and my son and I were hesitant to get on until we realised the songs being sung by the rabid contents of the train were Arsenal and not Chelsea fans.
We piled on and as the doors struggled to close around the train’s packed contents, we joined in the sing song. Three stops later we jumped off the tube as one, the bodies all spilled out of the doors and transformed into a single body of rowdy and noisy Arsenal.
Songs were sung as we took the short walk up to the away end, a few cross words, a few songs and a few hand gestures later and we were at the entrance to the Shed End. A quick search for pyro and/or wherever else you’re not allowed to take into Stamford Bridge and we found our seats in the Lower Tier.
The game kicked off and the early exchanges seemed fairly even, but it was another defensive error which pushed the momentum of the game in Chelsea’s favour. Mustafi made yet another poor decision to try and kick the ball back to Leno, but it didn’t have enough on it, and as Leno ambled out, Tammy Abraham rounded the German, and David Luiz rounded everyone and took Abraham out, and not in a good way.
Luiz was sent off straight away and the penalty was despatched by Jorginho with ease to put Chelsea one up. With our lack of defensive players at the moment, Granit Xhaka was the unlikely saviour, the Swisser falling back into defence and playing a blinder for the rest of the game alongside the also impressive Mustafi.
A Chelsea corner was the unlikely contributor to our equaliser, we quickly cleared and ball found Martinelli via Mustafi’s header. Martinelli then scored a goal which Thierry Henry would have been proud of, running the length of the pitch and side footing past Kepa to send us away fans wild.
The ten men of Arsenal dug deep but the Chelsea pressure was relentless and with six minutes to go it looked like the game was over. The ref and VAR ignored the obvious offside and Azpilicueta slotted the ball past Leno for 2-1. Arsenal were on the ropes, but there was still a twist in the tail of the game. The ball found Bellerin who twisted and turned and curled a tame looking shot past Kepa to send the away fans even wilder than the first goal had done, what a moment in the away end!
After the game, segregation outside was non-existent, but I think as the game had ended in a draw, there wasn’t too much trouble away from a few more songs and the standard two finger salutes. Having traveled to Leicester, Everton and Bournemouth amongst others this season, it’s games like these that remind you why you take the afternoon’s off work, get up at stupid times, get soaked while watching us lose week in week out. The atmosphere was electric in the Arsenal end, the noise was amazing and we all wanted the same thing, not sure we honestly deserved to win the game, but we definitely did not deserve to lose it but the visit to Chelsea will go down as one of my favourite away days of all time.
David Luiz will now miss the Bournemouth game on Monday in the FA Cup, we we’ll have to hope Sokratis returns, however one more piece of good news, Rob Holding looks to be fit, and with Bellerin also back it looks like things could be easing.
Once Luiz and Aubameyang’s bans are complete, Reiss Nelson and Kolasinac return, things will be looking a lot better.
Despite the amount of draws Arteta has managed, the positive is we have only lost once under the Spaniard and that was a last five minute capitulation against Chelsea.
While the results haven’t been the best, the improvement in the camp is obvious and once these players are all back and fighting for places we’ll be able to string some decent results together and shuffle ourselves up the league towards the hallowed top four spot.