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Courtois: Quality coming in

Thibaut Courtois believes the fact we have played against Arsenal so often of late had an impact on the tight encounter at Stamford Bridge yesterday afternoon.

The Blues played out our first goalless draw in the Premier League since February 2016 against our north London rivals, a game in which there were few clear-cut goalscoring opportunities.

It was the fourth meeting between the teams since last May, following on from the FA Cup final, a friendly in Beijing and the Community Shield, and Courtois provided his assessment of the match.

‘Clean sheets are always nice but not when you draw 0-0, I would have preferred to concede a goal and win 2-1,’ said the Chelsea goalkeeper.

‘It was a close game, both teams knew how the other played as we’ve played against each other a lot in the last few months. It was hard to find space and they put pressure on our defence very well. I tried to play out from the back sometimes in order to find space because playing only with long balls wasn’t going to help.

‘I wouldn’t say we played a bad game. Arsenal played well tactically and pressed us. We had a couple of chances, especially the one when Pedro was one against one with Petr [Cech], but it was a good save from him.

‘That might have changed the game because at 1-0 Arsenal would have had to come out a bit more and there would have been more space for us. In the end, the game continued in a close way.’

A straight red card shown to David Luiz late in the game means we will be without the Brazilian for Wednesday’s Carabao Cup tie against Nottingham Forest, as well as upcoming Premier League fixtures away at Stoke and at home to Manchester City.

Courtois, though, says the squad have complete faith in our defensive replacements, with both Andreas Christensen, who was introduced for the closing stages against Arsenal, and Antonio Rudiger performing well when called upon so far this season.

‘We play Forest in midweek so it’s one less game in the Premier League, but the manager may have rotated David anyway,’ explained the Belgian.

‘It’s a blow because David has been playing really well since he arrived last season. He’s a great player and a great leader but we have confidence in the other guys as well. He will be missed but we have good players on the bench.’

Speaking after yesterday’s game, Antonio Conte indicated Eden Hazard, a second-half substitute against the Gunners, could make his first start of the season on Wednesday, and Courtois is delighted to have his compatriot involved once again.

‘We know Eden is working to get his best form back, we saw his class against Arsenal and he almost scored,’ he said. ‘We’re happy and now we hope he can get more minutes.’