Arsenal proved against Chelsea that they can manage without the services of contract rebels Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, says Martin Keown.
The Gunners visited Stamford Bridge on Sunday knowing very well that they desperately needed to deliver a good performance amid huge criticism following a disappointing start this season.
Arsenal showed a winning mentality and a determination to fight till the end compared to their last away outing, in which they suffered an embarrassing 4-0 defeat against Liverpool at Anfield.
The Gunners ended their poor record at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League – ending a run of five defeats in a row by snatching a point against the defending champions, who saw David Luiz sent off during the last quarter of the game.
Arsenal stepped up their game and had the intent to fight till the end. The Gunners had the better chances to win the game – with Alexandre Lacazette missing an open goal after Aaron Ramsey was denied by the post, and Mustafi’s goal disallowed due to offside.
Wenger took the risk to leave contract rebel Sanchez on the bench – with the Man City bound forward yet to start a game for the Gunners in the Premier League since failing to force through a move to the Etihad on deadline day.
Former Real Madrid star Mesut Ozil was also not available due to injury, but Arsenal performed brilliantly against defending Champions Chelsea to secure a goalless draw on Sunday.
“There has been so much fear at Arsenal of losing Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil,” former Gunners defender Keown told the Daily Mail.
“This excellent performance at Chelsea without them made you wonder what all the fuss was about.”
“Without these two, Arsenal were much better defensively. They were disciplined, worked together and pressed as a unit to close down Chelsea.”
“This was the first time that Chelsea have failed to score at Stamford Bridge under Antonio Conte. When Chelsea were in possession, Arsenal put them under such pressure they made Gary Cahill look like he could not pass.”
“How many times do you see Sanchez flying forward to press and no one coming to join him? Arsene Wenger has not been brave enough to leave out Ozil but how much does he offer the team?”
“With midfielders working around him, Aaron Ramsey was able to get on the ball more. He ran the show in midfield and it was his best display for years.”
“For this Arsenal team, it was a chance to step up and prove that they did not need Sanchez and Ozil to perform.”
Both Sanchez and Ozil have entered the final 12 months of their contract at Arsenal and are yet to sign new deals with the Gunners.
Both of them will become free agents next summer unless they can be convinced to sign extensions, or are moved on during the January transfer window.