Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea: Hudson-Odoi the star as Cech saves two penalties
Teenager Callum Hudson-Odoi impressed against Arsenal, although the Blues eventually lost 6-5 on penalties after conceding a late equaliser.
Action Images via REUTERS/Paul Childs
Callum Hudson-Odoi is the name on everybody’s lips after an eye-catching display against Arsenal in Dublin last night as the Blues fell victim to their former employee Petr Cech in a penalty shootout.
The 36-year-old saved his first penalty of the game in the first half, though, denying Alvaro Morata with Chelsea already 1-0 up and looking to capitalise on this period of dominance. The Czech, too, saved from England international Ruben Loftus-Cheek in the shootout to ensure the Gunners won 6-5, after both sides converted their first five attempts.
The Blues began well as Hudson-Odoi terrorised Hector Bellerin on Arsenal’s right, playing a smart pass from the byline to Cesc Fabregas at the edge of the box, who saw his shot tipped over by Cech, though Antonio Rudiger headed the opener from the resulting corner.
Bellerin, again, was left in no-man’s-land by Hudon-Odoi’s nifty footwork, and the teenager won a penalty that Morata tamely put too far within Cech’s reach.
Although Chelsea had the better of the first half, Unai Emery’s side improved significantly after the break and Alexandre Lacazette should have equalised in the 75th minute – his nutmeg on Andreas Christensen took him through on goal, but his shot didn’t have enough curl on it as it rolled narrowly wide.
This seemed to be a running theme of the evening, with Lacazette guilty of late profligacy, but the Frenchman made amends when he guided Reiss Nelson’s cross into the back of the net in the 93rd minute to send the game to penalties.
On a pitch including Premier League, Champions League and World Cup winners, 17-year-old Hudson-Odoi was a class above as he stole the show with a mightily impressive display belying his youth.
He was awarded the freedom to linger up the pitch even when Chelsea were off the ball, and he duly capitalised on the space afforded to him. The winger had the constant beating of Bellerin and frequently got himself in behind the Spaniard, his driving runs and directness sparking panic amongst the Arsenal defence.
It was Hudson-Odoi’s run in the channel and pass that won the corner from which Rudiger scored, his tricky footwork that coaxed a penalty out of Bellerin, whilst he created two further chances for Morata and saw a shot of his own saved.
Arsenal, too, saw another mature performance from Emile Smith-Rowe, who replaced Aaron Ramsey in the starting lineup after the Welshman suffered an injury in the warm-up, whilst Matteo Guendouzi continues to impress.
Pre-season is supposed to be a period in which issues are resolved, rather than have more created. Emery, however, has the wrong kind of selection headache ahead of their opening Premier League fixture with Manchester City, as both Ramsey and Sead Kolasinac picked up injuries.
Ramsey suffered a muscle injury in the warm-up that Emery thinks isn’t “a big one,” whilst Kolasinac appeared to hurt his a knee in a challenge with Victor Moses. “It might be different,” Emery explained as he awaits the results of a scan.
The Spaniard, too, doesn’t yet seem closer to his preferred starting XI as he works out a way to fit all of Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Lacazette into the team. Lacazette, however, might make this decision easier as he was guilty of missing chances late on last night, particularly a one-on-one with Cech that rolled wide.
For Sarri, too, personnel issues continue. Ross Barkley failed to grasp his opportunity and Morata was extremely sub-poor and was the only reason the Blues hadn’t tied up the game in 90 minutes. He scuffed a penalty, a header and two more opportunities as Sarri watched on in disappointment.
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