Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea
12.37 – Welcome to the first game of what is a big day of football. This could go a long way to deciding the Champions League chase as Arsenal look to bounce back from the Wigan defeat to secure third and Chelsea look to build on the incredible Barcelona win to get back into fourth. Perhaps an indication of what really matters for Chelsea, though, as Roberto Di Matteo makes eight changes to his starting line-up from the team that won on Wednesday.
12.39 – The teams:
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Ramsey, Song, Walcott, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain, van Persie. Subs: Fabianski, Diaby, Andre Santos, Djourou, Gervinho, Chamakh, Coquelin.
Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Cahill, Terry, Bertrand, Essien, Romeu, Malouda, Sturridge, Torres, Kalou. Subs: Turnbull, Cole, Lampard, Mata, Mikel, Meireles, Ferreira.
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)
12.42 – The only survivors from Wednesday night for Chelsea are Cech, Cahill and Terry. Otherwise,it’s a very open team… and a very strong bench.
12.51 – And we’re off… hard not to favour Arsenal given the teams.
12.54 – Positive start Arsenal as Van Persie nicks the ball in midfield;Rosicky picks it up and drives at goal but Cech just about holds his long-range strike.
12.55 – Shouts of a Chelsea penalty as Sagna appears to lean on Kalou with the latter breaking into the box. Not given.
13.00 – Chelsea beginning to enjoy a spell of pressure. Torres almost broke the Arsenal lines there only to be flagged offside; the team in general starting to control the space and ball now.
13.03 – Should have been 1-0 Arsenal! And, of all people, it’s Van Persie who misses it! alcott – yes, Walcott – delivers a set-piece beautifully. It’s practically an open goal but the Dutch striker – who did also have Vermaelen running in – opts to hit it with the outside of his left rather than his right.
13.11 – Really livening up at the Emirates as Arsenal enjoy a spell while Chelsea look to break quickly. This is open at the moment. There’s surely a goal coming soon.
13.14 – The Arsenal fans groan as Aaron Ramsey – who’s star has fallen lately – gives the ball away again.
13.18 – Oh, Rosicky goes in very late on Essien. Gets a yellow. That was not the kind of tackle you associate with him.
13.24 – Roberto Di Matteo will probably be happier with how the game has progressed so far, his game-plan appearing to work better. Chelsea comfortable enough and occasionally dangerous on the break.
13.30 – Koscielny hits the bar! He was completely unmarked as the ball was just hooked into the box from a set-piece, perhaps even having time to take it down.
13.35 – It threatened to be a glorious break by Arsenal as they flowed forwardat blistering pace but Bosingwa just cuts the ball away from Oxlade-Chamberlain as he tried to move inside near the box.
13.37 – Half-time: a game that has been both open and tight in different stages of the game,with both sides also controlling different sectors. The home team definitely had the better chances mind.
13.52 – The second half is off…
13.58 – A sprightly start to the second half as Chelsea look more energetic, having switched to 4-4-2.
14.01 – Torres bursts into the area with a quick shake of the hips only for the ball to be unceremoniously whacked away. He’s been bright, all the same.
14.08 – Walcott limps off injured, Gervinho on.
14.12 – Diaby now comes on for Rosicky, who had been Arsenal’s most creative player. They had been seeing less of the ball though so perhaps Wenger wants to bulk up. Interesting to see how Arsenal adapt.
14.13 – Mikel comes on for Romeu.
14.19 – Arsenal have seemingly lost organisation here, missing tackles, moves breaking down. In saying that, neither side will be too disheartened with a point. It’d be yet another early 0-0 in the Champions League chase, though, after Spurs’ draw at Stamford Bridge. Unless…
14.21 – Kalou coming off for Mata. Di Matteo maybe sensing opportunity here now.
14.27 – Another shout for a penalty as Song chips the ball into the box and Van Persie goes down under the aerial challenge of Cahill. Nothing doing from Mike Dean though.
14.30 – Van Persie blazes an effort wide with his right. He’s only got one goal in his last six games, and that was a penalty against Wolves.
14.34 – Koscielny does superbly to fly in and prevent Sturridge shooting for what wasprobably a certain goal. Brilliant. He’s had a fine game the Frenchman.
14.40 – We’re into the final minute of the four allotted for stoppage time.
14.44 – Full-time: a rare 0-0 draw at the Emirates, although Chelsea defend well again. Di Matteo’s team may be happy with the performance but, in truth, it’s not a great result for either in terms of the table. Arsenal are six points clear of Tottenham and Newcastle but both have a game in hand. Chelsea a point behind both having played a game more. In that context, it’s surprising neither side pushed for a winner a bit more.