IT’S THE FINAL Premier League fixture before Christmas Day as Chelsea make the short trip to North London to take on Arsenal.
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Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea
19.43 – Good evening. It’s a pretty miserable evening in London as two of the city’s biggest club face off in the Premier League. We’re just 15 minutes away from kick-off so let’s have your predictions…
19.44 – Here are the teams:
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Ramsey, Arteta, Walcott, Ozil, Rosicky, Giroud. Subs: Fabianski, Podolski, Monreal, Cazorla, Flamini, Bendtner, Jenkinson.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Mikel, Lampard, Ramires, Willian, Hazard, Torres. Subs: Schwarzer, Cole, Luiz, Mata, Oscar, Schurrle, Eto’o.
19.48 – If you haven’t done already, now would be the perfect time to read our piece on five talking points from tonight’s match which includes a point about whether Arsene Wenger can finally beat Jose Mourinho for the first time in 10 attempts.
Check it out here.
19.53 – “It is not a personal battle,” Arsene Wenger said yesterday. “Honestly, we had some big games in the past, but what is important for me is that I am completely focused on Arsenal Football Club and on my team and doing well in the team.
Whether we play Monday against Chelsea or anybody else, for me it is exactly the same, because what is at stake for us is to get back to winning habits, whether it is Chelsea or anyone else.”
Do you believe him? I’m not so sure.
19.57 – These two could be key men this evening:
19.58 – The last time these clubs met in the Capital One Cup back in October, Chelsea earned a 2-0 win:
YouTube credit: Glory Aganze
20.00 – Right, here we go. The rain is pouring down at the Emirates but the pitch looks to be in good shape.
20.05 – A misplaced back-pass by Kieran Gibbs gifts Chelsea an early corner and John Terry and Gary Cahill are both up. It gets a flick-on at the front post however and runs out for a throw-in.
20.07 – A nice touch from Per Mertesacker is welcomed by a loud cheer. Neat footwork from the big German defender.
20.09 – Cesar Azpilicueta, known to his team-mates as “Dave”, gets away down the right after a slided pass by Eden Hazard. The Spaniard pulls a ball back to Frank Lampard but his strike is uncharacteristically bad. When the ball comes back in to Torres, he is ruled offside and Arsenal gain possession with the free-kick.
20.14 – Azpilicueta takes Aaron Ramsey’s legs from under him and is lucky not to go into referee Mike Dean’s book. Lampard then makes a late challenge on Bacary Sagna and concedes a free-kick.
20.19 – A ball over the top reaches Theo Walcott but he can’t get it under control and the Chelsea defenders crowd him out.
Arsenal then attack down the left through Gibbs, who overlapses and gets in a cross which is headed clear.
20.21 – Fernando Torres, who has been working hard with runs off the ball in the opening 18 minutes goes down under a challenge and shows his frustration after Dean waves play on.
20.26 – Mesut Ozil is standing over a free-kick which is a good 35-yards out. He opts to curl it to the far post where Olivier Giroud just fails to reach it.
22 minutes in and there has been little in the way of goalmouth action.
20.28 – Sagna storms down the right before sending in a dangerous-looking cross. Gary Cahill is well-positioned to put it behind for a corner though.
20.29 – We’ve had a chance! Willian curls a ball into a central position and Ramires rises highest to make contact with his head. It’s a decent effort but sails over the bar.
20.34 – He’s not the only one!
20.35 – Wow, that’s desperately unlucky from Frank Lampard. Eden Hazard picks him out with a cracking ball and the midfielder crashes a strike off the bar.
20.37 – Chelsea have suddenly come alive and Torres has just had two opportunities. First, he turns well and gets a rather tame effort on target before a timely tackle by Mertesacker keeps him at bay.
20.40 – PENALTY SHOUT KLAXON! Ozil finds Walcott in the Chelsea box and Willian makes a lazy attempt to get the ball — bringing down his opponent in the process. It looks a certain penalty to me but Mike Dean isn’t having any of it.
Jon Obi Mikel has also put in a tough tackle on Mikel Arteta in the past couple of minutes.
20.43 – Azpilicueta now on the receiving end as Rosicky catches him with a sliding tackle. No yellow card given.
20.46 – Here’s that penalty incident. What are your thoughts?
20.47 – Chelsea break in numbers and Hazard rolls the ball out to Willian on the left. He comes in onto his right foot and has a go but the strike is weak and Szczesny makes a routine save.
20.48 – Mesut Ozil fires at goal from 25 yards but it strikes the body of Gary Cahill. Half-time seconds away.
20.49 – Half-time: Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea
Two festively-dressed Chelsea fans. Credit: David Davies/PA Wire/Press Association Images
21.04 – And we’re back. The second half has started and there are no changes on either side just yet.
21.10 – Rosicky orchestrates a good move with Giroud and Walcott but his attempted shot is blocked and Chelsea go on the attack. Willian tries to find compatriot Ramires but can’t do so.
21.14 – We’ve just had a contested drop ball. Haven’t seen one of them in awhile.
21.16 – BREAKING NEWS — Tottenham have given interim boss Tim Sherwood an 18-month contract. More to follow.
21.22 – A bad tackle from Ramires on Arteta there and he is about to pick up the first booking of the night. The Arsenal fans wanted red however and boo Dean’s decision.
21.26 – It’s all getting a little heated here. Ozil and Ivanovic have to be pulled apart after the Serbian goes in high on his marker.
21.30 – Rosicky is the next man into the book after he catches Ivanovic. And Andre Schurrle is coming on for Chelsea.
21.31 – It’s Eden Hazard who is making way for Schurrle. It hasn’t been his night.
21.34 – Ramires is on the deck and the players are having an argument about who should or shouldn’t have put the ball out of play.
21.36 – Jose Mourinho has made a second change with Oscar on for Willian.
21.38 – Huge chance for Arsenal but Olivier Giroud has wasted it. The Frenchman is clean through on goal but slices the ball wide of Petr Cech’s near post.
10 minutes on the clock.
21.44 – Oh dear. Arsenal work the ball nicely from one side of the pitch the other and Rosicky finds Gibbs on the overlap. He cuts the ball back perfectly to Giroud but the Frenchman send his shot over the bar from close range.
21.45 – Mourinho is clearly happy with a draw here. He is bringing on David Luiz for Fernando Torres.
21.49 – Three minutes of added time and Arsenal have themselves a corner.
21.49 – Sagna gets up to win the header but it’s cleared off the line.
21.51 – Ramires is fouled and David Luiz wants to have a pop with the free-kick, which is a good 30 yards out from goal. He can only hit the wall though.
21.51 – Full-time: Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea
22.06 – Well that was far from a classic. Both sides had chances to win it but Messrs Mourinho and Wenger will be happy enough with a point going into the Christmas schedule. The draw makes good reading for Liverpool fans, as it means the Reds will be top of the table on Christmas Day.
Credit: Premier League
22.09 – That’s my lot. Thanks for joining me and Happy Christmas!