Arsenal and Chelsea shared the spoils in a four-goal thriller this evening as Hector Bellerin scored a stoppage-time equaliser to rescue a 2-2 draw at the Emirates Stadium.
The two sides got their 2018 campaigns off to a flying start with a pulsating contest from start to finish, although it took until the 63rd for either to break the deadlock when Jack Wilshere lashed home his first Premier League goal since May 2015.
That lead lasted just four minutes before Eden Hazard levelled things up from the spot, though, and it looked as though Chelsea had done enough to come away with all three points when Marcos Alonso scored with just six minutes remaining.
However, the topsy-turvy and end-to-end London derby had one final twist in the tale as Bellerin fired home a fine half-volley to earn a point for the home side, who held on despite Chelsea hitting the crossbar just seconds later.
Both teams welcomed key players back into their starting lineup as Mesut Ozil returned from a knee injury for Arsenal and Eden Hazard was restored to the Chelsea side after being rested last time out.
The Gunners were missing Laurent Koscielny and Sead Kolasinac in addition to the likes of Nacho Monreal, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud, though, leaving Arsene Wenger’s side with an inexperienced defence.
The imbalance between Arsenal’s defence and attack was a feature of the first half too, with Alexis Sanchez the first to come close when his deflected free kick looped narrowly wide of the target with Thibaut Courtois thwarted.
Just seven minutes later Chelsea should have broken the deadlock when a mix-up between Calum Chambers and Petr Cech allowed Alvaro Morata to race clean through on goal, but he fluffed his lines with his finish and sent a dreadful effort well wide of the target.
Morata was close to getting on the end of a low Victor Moses cross moments later, but Arsenal were soon on the attack again in an end-to-end match and will have been wondering quite how they didn’t open the scoring in the 17th minutes.
Sanchez played a slick one-two with Ozil inside the box before poking his finish towards goal, only for Courtois to pull off a stunning reaction save. Chelsea still needed both posts to come to their rescue, though, with the ball hitting the inside of one upright, rolling along the line and striking the other before Courtois gratefully dropped on it.
The Chelsea keeper was called into action again shortly afterwards when he got done smartly to deny Alexandre Lacazette after the striker had turned sharply inside the box.
The game continued to ebb and flow and it wasn’t long before the visitors had another chance of their own when Tiemoue Bakayoko was kept out by a good reaction stop from Cech.
It had been a goalkeeping masterclass at both ends of the field for the opening hour, but Courtois was finally beaten in the 63rd minute when Rob Holding’s pass was deflected into the path of Wilshere, who blasted an unstoppable strike past the Belgian at his near post.
Arsenal refused to rest on their newfound lead, though, and were pushing for a second within two minutes as Courtois was called into action to deny Lacazette once again.
For the second match in a row, though, Arsenal quickly gave up their 1-0 lead courtesy of a controversial penalty as Hazard went down theatrically following a wide swing of the boot from Hector Bellerin.
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