Courtois: Saves, chances and keeping up the pace

Thibaut Courtois echoed his manager’s view when admitting the side was frustrated to leave north London with only a point on Wednesday night.

Courtois was in exceptional form in an end-to-end game, producing stunning low saves from Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette in the first half before blocking the Frenchman with his legs in the second, but watched on when at the other end we spurned several good chances to win the match.

Jack Wilshere had put the Gunners ahead before Eden Hazard’s penalty and Marcos Alonso’s late finish had set up an away win, only for Hector Bellerin to equalise in the second minute of injury time.

‘Obviously we are disappointed,’ Courtois said afterwards. ‘It was a game with chances on both sides. We missed a big moment with Alvaro and then I made two great saves. We go in at half-time 0-0 and second half, I think we started okay, we had two chances Petr [Cech] saved well and I saved well from Lacazette but we were unlucky with the corner, the ball went to Wilshere and it was a rocket, I couldn’t save that.

‘We fought back and got the penalty, 1-1 and we score to make it 1-2. You know you will have a tough last couple of minutes and you have to try to keep it up and we made a mistake. It was a great goal of Bellerin, 2-2, and still we get a chance so it was a game both teams could say they could have won. Both goalkeepers played well but unfortunately for us, we didn’t get the three points we could have had.’

Courtois drew plaudits for his two first-half saves, the first pushing Sanchez’s shot onto his right-hand post before it rolled across the line and rebounded out off the other upright, and the second from Lacazette’s low left-footed drive which had been destined for the goalkeeper’s bottom corner before he stretched out his left arm to turn it wide.

‘The save on Sanchez, because of my length I could push it onto the post and I was a bit lucky it went to the other post and I could grab the ball,’ he reflected. ‘The second one, Lacazette, not many goalkeepers will save that, I was quick on the ground, so good saves, but I would have preferred to win.’

The draw is by no means a bad result, however, and Antonio Conte said after the game that a point at Arsenal is generally considered a decent outcome. It keeps us third, a point behind Manchester United and two ahead of Liverpool, with Spurs able to close the gap between themselves and the top four if they beat West Ham tonight. Sixth-placed Arsenal remain seven points behind us.

‘Obviously against those teams you have to try to win but away to a top-six team a draw is not bad - it keeps them at a distance,’ Courtois said. ‘Liverpool won, United won and Tottenham won (against Swansea) so we have to keep up the pace.

‘We have a couple of games to win against opponents that need points and are in good shape as well. It won’t be easy but we have to try to win and we want to go through in the Carabao Cup against Arsenal so it could be another two great games.’

We travel to Norwich in the FA Cup on Saturday before hosting the Gunners in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi next Wednesday. Our next Premier League action comes when we host Leicester at Stamford Bridge on 13 January.

- The Instagram post below shows Thibaut on his way to hand over his shirt to a young fan after the match...