LONDON (REUTERS) – Mikel Arteta hailed Arsenals fight after they twice recovered from a goal down to snatch a point against Chelsea on Tuesday (Jan 21), whose failure to take advantage of David Luizs early red card infuriated Frank Lampard.
“The spirit, character, fight and leadership was there,” Arsenals manager said. “When someone makes a mistake and someone has to take a red card for him it can happen. What has to happen is you have to stand up for him and every single player did that. If you put in everything, anything can happen.”
Arteta, who has made a decent start since his appointment by Arsenal last month, defended Luiz. “It was a very special game for him and he was disappointed to get sent off,” he said. “But hes proud of his teammates. We have to accept the decision.”
Chelsea started on the front foot and went ahead with a penalty by Jorginho in the 28th minute when Tammy Abraham pounced on a misplaced back pass by Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi and was brought down by former Blues defender Luiz.
The Brazilian was shown a red card by referee Stuart Attwell before Jorginho stroked home from the spot.
Chelsea controlled the first hour of the match with winger Callum Hudson-Odoi hitting the bar and forcing Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno into two fine saves.
But the hosts, who have struggled to score in recent matches, once again failed to capitalise on their possession and they paid for it in the 63rd minute when Gabriel Martinelli set off on a run from deep in his own half. He skipped past N'Golo Kante as the French midfielder slipped and fired past the advancing Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta stabbed home a cross by Hudson-Odoi in the 84th minute but Arsenal refused to give up and their captain Hector Bellerin scored three minutes later with a curling low shot.
“I know theres a focus on him at the minute, thats top-line football,” Chelseas manager said. “With his feet a couple of times, he took too long, nearly gave it away and that can change the momentum of a game.