In a match of 33 chances, more than an hour of near-misses -- including an Alexis Sanchez shot that bounced off both posts before being smothered by Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois -- and stunning saves led to a thunderous opening goal by Jack Wilshire in the 63rd minute.
Chelsea replied almost immediately with an Eden Hazard penalty kick after he’d been tripped in the penalty area by Bellerin, and took the lead in the 84th minute when Marcos Alonso headed home Zappacosta’s cross. Bellerin re-tied the game two minutes into stoppage time with a spectacular half-volley of a partial clearance, yet Arsenal needed ex-Chelsea keeper Peter Cech to thwart Alvaro Morata one-v-one and escaped with a point when Zappacosta’s follow-up shot struck the bar.
“It was a great football game,” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger in his postgame comments. “That's what you want people to talk about. The media and social networks drive everyone crazy today, but what is important to me is a good football game. We played three games in six days and you could see the team gave absolutely everything. We have a busy schedule and have made bad decisions but there is still great quality in our games."
Chelsea ended up with an 18-14 advantage in shots though Arsenal controlled 58 percent of possession. The result preserved both team’s places in the standings. Chelsea is third with 46 points, one point behind runner-up Manchester United and 16 points back of City. Arsenal trails by one point archrival Tottenham, which is fifth.
Three days before Christmas, also at The Emirates, Arsenal played a wild 3-3 tie with Liverpool -- currently in fourth place -- in which it scored three goals in five minutes t wipe out a 2-0 deficit but then conceded an equalizer with about 20 minutes remaining.
The busy holiday schedule of league play concludes Thursday when another pair of London rivals, West Ham and Tottenham, square off at Wembley Stadium. Third-round action in the FA Cup starts Friday.