Mikel Arteta praises three Arsenal stars after hard-fought Chelsea draw

Nestor Watach
Mikel-Arteta-Arsenal TEAMtalk

Mikel Arteta has praised his Arsenal players after they responded to the set-back of an early red card and came back from behind twice to record a 2-2 draw against Chelsea.

Gunners skipper Hector Bellerin equalised three minutes after opposing captain Cesar Azpilicueta thought he had claimed a victory for Chelsea with a neat late finish.

Azpilicueta turned home Callum Hudson-Odoi’s cross with six minutes to play to spark delirium in Stamford Bridge as Frank Lampard’s men took a 2-1 lead.

Jorginho coolly converted his second penalty in three matches after David Luiz was sent off for hauling down Tammy Abraham just when the Chelsea striker was about to tap into an empty net.

Gabriel Martinelli pounced on a rare N’Golo Kante error to drag Arsenal level after the break however, and for large swathes this match appeared destined for a 1-1 draw despite Arsenal playing with 10 men since the 26th minute.

“I am very pleased with the reaction,” said Arteta in his post-match interview with Match Of The Day.

“To do that against this kind of opponent in this stadium, I really value. The way they have done it, with the spirit they have done it, that’s great.”

“When someone makes a mistake you expect your team-mates to stand up and they showed that belief, I was really impressed with that.

“I wasn’t here a couple of weeks ago but what I am demanding every day they are trying their best to do it. Some are playing in different positions.

“The togetherness and leadership they showed today, this is what I wanted to see.

“It’s very important for the development. We are in a process and are going in the right direction but I think tonight is a special night for everybody.

“Granit [Xhaka] is – the way he trains every day – his attitude is incredible. I am very pleased with him in that position, the way he came in. I wasn’t expecting Hector Bellerin to score with his left foot but he is fighting hard.”

Xhaka put in a solid performance in the centre of defence, moving position after Luiz was shown red. The Gunners boss looked close to bringing on centre-half Rob Holding for Martinelli at several points in the first half, but he looked to change his mind as Xhaka helped hold the fort.

18-year-old talent Martinelli received plenty of plaudits for his performance, as he ran from his own half, running straight past Kante – who slipped on the halfway line – before slotting past Kepa Arrizabalaga.

It’s his second Premier League goal in as many games, having started two consecutive league games for Arsenal for the first time with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang serving a three-match suspension.

“He is a great kid,” Arteta added, on Martinelli.

“He gets in the box. He plays against Cesar Azpilicueta who is one of the best defenders in the league and keeps taking him on. That is not easy.”