Despite it only being a pre-season encounter, there was clearly no love lost between Chelsea and Arsenal in Sunday’s Mind Series clash, as both sides demonstrated a competitive edge with tackles flying in and constant attempts to force the opposition into making errors.
Having survived a wave of early Arsenal pressure, Chelsea took advantage of an exposed Gunners backline to strike first through Kai Havertz on the 26-minute mark before Hakim Ziyech inexplicably failed to double his side’s lead with the goal at his mercy in the second half.
The Gunners took advantage of the Moroccan’s mishap to equalise through Granit Xhaka, but Arsenal’s error-strewn performances are not a thing of the past just yet as Hector Bellerin’s misplaced pass allowed Tammy Abraham to slot home the winning goal in the 72nd minute.
Sunday’s game was not without a healthy dose of controversy, though, as Joe Willock’s late effort cannoned off the crossbar and over the line, but Chelsea survived what would have otherwise been a clear goal with no technology assisting Andre Marriner on the day.
Nevertheless, Chelsea secured a confidence-boosting victory for an upbeat Thomas Tuchel who was “very happy” with his side’s showing in North London, and Wednesday’s battle with Spurs represents one final opportunity for pre-season tweaks before next week’s UEFA Super Cup versus Europa League winners Villarreal.
Happenings off the pitch rather than on it may be dominating the talk of Tottenham at present, but Nuno Espirito Santo has at least managed to block out all the outside noise to rack up a respectable set of pre-season results.
The former Wolverhampton Wanderers manager oversaw a disappointing 1-1 draw with Leyton Orient during his first exhibition game, but Spurs have since notched up three goals during wins at Colchester United and MK Dons before the stiffer tests begin.
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A fiery North London derby will be in store for Tottenham as they meet Arsenal in their second Mind Series clash on August 8, but Nuno will be looking no further than Stamford Bridge for the time being after leading an open Spurs training session in front of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium crowd.
As a plethora of youngsters seek more opportunities to impress against Premier League opposition, expect an equally tense encounter between two sides who will not view this fixture as a ‘friendly’ despite the billing, especially with Tottenham’s first game of the new season coming against Manchester City.
Last season’s battle between Spurs and Chelsea at Stamford Bridge finished goalless, but a Jorginho penalty propelled Tuchel’s side to victory over their counterparts in North London back in February