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Honours even in Chelsea, Arsenal London supremacy battle

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Arsenal earned their first point at Chelsea in six years – a fully deserved reward for an excellent display that could even have brought victory against the Premier League champions, who finished with 10 men.

The Gunners had previously only kept one clean sheet in their past 18 league games at Stamford Bridge, so this will surely leave manager Arsene Wenger satisfied after the defensive fiasco of the 4-0 loss at Liverpool in August.

Pedro missed Chelsea’s best chance in the first half when he raced clear but was blocked by Arsenal keeper Petr Cech.

Arsenal, however, had arguably the better chances as Danny Welbeck headed wide in front of goal and Aaron Ramsey struck a post, Alexandre Lacazette firing the rebound over an open goal.

The second period was a tighter affair, the Blues’ frustrations boiling over in the closing minutes when David Luiz was shown a straight red card for a reckless challenge on Sead Kolasinac, BBC said.

Wenger insisted the debacle of the 4-0 loss at Liverpool in August – a performance that provoked fierce criticism of both manager and players – was an “accident”.

The words were greeted with cynicism by those who had been at the scene of identical Arsenal ‘accidents’ at Anfield three times in the past four years and wondered whether Wenger was again at odds with the reality of the Gunners’ plight.

Arsenal’s display on Sunday, full of steel and discipline as well as attacking intent, gave the Frenchman’s theory plenty of weight as they stood toe-to-toe with the champions and were the better side for spells.

The trick now is for Arsenal to provide further evidence that this excellent performance – at a ground which has been a stage of unrelenting misery is recent years – is the rule and the display at Anfield is the exception.

Wenger’s team selection was an improvement on the fiasco of Anfield, where Alexandre Lacazette and Kolasinac were inexplicably left out when threat and physical presence were essential.

Arsenal’s manager cut an agitated figure in his technical area for much of the game, spending time in dialogue with the officials nearby, but there was much for Wenger to be satisfied with as they more than matched Chelsea.

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