Chelsea 2-2 Arsenal: Mauricio Pochettino’s side show positive signs despite throwing away victory21 October 2023
Chelsea's long quest for hope and optimism amid the most desperate period in their recent history finally looked to have found a shaft of light as Arsenal were being dominated at Stamford Bridge.
Mauricio Pochettino's expensively re-shaped side were 2-0 up and the home supporters were as exuberant as they have been in more than a year as Chelsea looked on course for their finest moment under the Argentine's leadership.
And then, with just 13 minutes left, one of those moments of calamity that have characterised Chelsea far too often punctured the atmosphere of elation and transformed it into nervous tension.
Chelsea keeper Robert Sanchez decided to try and upstage his hapless Arsenal opposite number David Raya, leaving himself stranded hopelessly out of position after a poor clearance that Declan Rice gratefully fired back past him to give Arsenal hope where little had previously existed.
The door was open to Mikel Arteta's side and they burst through, Leandro Trossard equalising seven minutes later.
Where there was calm suddenly came chaos, a frantic finale looking more likely to end with an Arsenal victory than Chelsea - which would have been remarkable given what had gone before.
Cole Palmer's penalty and Mykhailo Mudryk's speculative punt from out wide, which flew over the poorly positioned Raya and placed further question marks over whether he is actually an upgrade on Aaron Ramsdale, had Chelsea sitting pretty.
The fact they carelessly cast aside a point will have left this feeling more like a defeat than a draw for Pochettino and his players considering their superiority for long periods.
This was certainly reflected in Chelsea's body language as they slumped off and Arsenal celebrated an unlikely point.
It was a bitter pill to swallow, but dig deeper into Chelsea's display and they might just find a sweeter taste with clear signs that better times may finally be on the way under Pochettino after the dismal sequence under Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter, followed by the nonsensical holding operation under Frank Lampard.
There have been indications that, given time and patience, which surely must be the currency at Stamford Bridge after the previous scattergun nonsense from co-owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali, Pochettino will eventually point things in the right direction.
Chelsea's spirits have been lifted by convincing away wins at Fulham and Burnley and, despite the wastefulness of those last 13 minutes, there was much to admire about this performance.
Pochettino had outflanked his friend and former Paris St. Germain colleague Arteta with his use of Cole Palmer as a false nine, Chelsea playing with the intensity and attacking intent that is the manager's trademark.
Mudryk has shown signs of coming to terms with life at Chelsea and was prominent again here, although whether he meant the effort that resulted in a goal - or if it was actually a cross - will be a matter for debate.
What is beyond question is that Arsenal keeper Raya's positioning was so poor, in line with the rest of his display, that it did nothing to make Arteta's case that he is an improvement on Ramsdale after the manager's ruthless decision to depose the England international.
As well as Mudryk, Moises Caicedo is also starting to look like the player so highly-prized that the waving of cheque books between Chelsea and Liverpool eventually ended with him costing £115m.
The Ecuadorian was doing that unfussy, under-stated job he does so well, always available, always willing to do the dirty work. He will prove to be a fine asset for Chelsea.
Palmer's calm dispatch of his penalty, which he took after a discussion involving Raheem Sterling, demonstrated that he is comfortable at this level. He proved this at Manchester City and under Pochettino's careful guidance, a manager who has proven expertise in helping young talent flourish, then there should be a lot more to come from the Wythenshawe-born 21-year-old.
Chelsea, for all the wild and unstructured purchasing policies of the ownership, have actually acquired some quality players and if he is left in peace to shape it all, then Pochettino has the ability to make it work.
He still needs to get a reliable goalscorer, though, with Nicolas Jackson very raw and Christopher Nkunku still injured. However, Pochettino can be pleased with some early aspect of his rebuilding.
Chelsea will have felt the acute pain of throwing away victory here at Stamford Bridge, but the evidence here was that there is certainly something to work with.
This news item was provided by the BBC Sport - Football website - the original link is: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/67184974?at_medium=RSS&at_campaign=KARANGA