Christopher Nkunku and Mykhailo Mudryk have hailed club captain Reece James after he made his return to the matchday squad in yesterday’s 2-2 draw against Arsenal.
Mudryk handed the Blues an early advantage when he headed a cross onto Gunners defender William Saliba’s arm in the penalty area. Referee Chris Kavanagh did not initially give Mauricio Pochettino’s side a penalty but was told by VAR to have a second look at the action on the pitch-side monitor.
Saliba was then deemed to have gained an advantage by using his arm, and therefore the penalty was awarded with Blues summer signing Cole Palmer stepping up and firing them into the lead after just 15 minutes. Their lead would be doubled though only three minutes after half-time, with Mudryk again being vital to the play.
The Ukrainian international picked the ball up on the left-hand side, dribbled towards the byline and chipped Arsenal goalkeeper David Raya from outside the box to send Stamford Bridge into a frenzy. Pochettino’s men continued to dominate the ball for another 30 minutes and looked to be on their way to a fourth straight win in all competitions.
However, a mistake from Robert Sanchez saw him give the ball away to Declan Rice who fired a curling effort from 25-yards out to bring the Gunners back into the clash. Arsenal then found an equaliser late on with Leandro Trossard converting Bukayo Saka’s cross at the back post after breaking past Malo Gusto.
The result meant the Blues moved up to tenth in the league table, the first time under Pochettino that they’ve been in the top half. After the match, the Chelsea boss highlighted how he’d been disappointed not to win the match outright.
He said: “Yes [it’s two dropped points] because I feel until 77 minutes when we conceded the first goal, I think we were in control and didn’t concede many chances. I think Arsenal are an amazing team, they were fighting last season for the trophy and I think this season improved with some players also. Yes, disappointed because we dropped two points.
“I think it can happen, this type of situation and you have to accept it. Today, we are in an era of football that the way we want to play from the back and now we cannot say he was, oh, we can be tough. But that is football, this is the situation.
“Of course, mistakes can happen in football. We make mistakes, a lot of mistakes and when the players are on the pitch they are allowed to. I think we give the possibility to make a mistake of course.
“Unlucky, because I think it was 77 minutes, 2-0, and this goal gave the belief to Arsenal, and 2-1 with 10 minutes to play, 13 minutes to play when you can concede and take risks like they were taking. In the end disappointed. At the same time, I am so happy because we were very competitive, with all the circumstances we need to feel about the performance and how we played.”
One player who echoed his manager’s sentiments was James, who made his return from injury last night. The 24-year-old hadn’t played since the opening weekend with a hamstring problem before a one-game suspension for off-pitch antics ahead of the international break saw him unable to return in the 4-1 win over Burnley.
The star has been a big missing link in Pochettino’s setup over the first few weeks of the season, but replacement Gusto has stepped up when it’s counted. The French international even claimed that there’d be ‘war’ between the two players over the starting role when James eventually returned to full fitness.
Taking to Instagram after the match, James thanked supporters and admitted that he thought they should’ve won the match. He wrote: “Unfortunate not to win, but super happy to be back on the pitch. Appreciate the patience and support.”
Underneath the post, Nkunku celebrated his teammate’s return as he commented with a fire emoji and a love-heart-eyes emoji. Mudryk followed suit, sending his love to the club captain by commenting: “Finally you back” with a love-heart-eyes emoji..…CONTINUE.FULL.READING>>>