Chelsea managed to hold out for a 0-0 draw in a listless game against their rivals Arsenal on Saturday. But the tied score did little to boost either team's prospects of advancing to the Premier League's top four.
REUTERS - Chelsea held out for a 0-0 draw against Arsenal at the Emirates on Saturday as neither London club enhanced their prospects of finishing in the Premier League’s top four.
Sandwiched between Chelsea’s Champions League semi-final against Barcelona, the derby proved a listless affair which left Chelsea in sixth place and Arsenal in the driving seat for a top three finish in third.
With three matches remaining Arsenal have 65 points, six ahead of Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United who both have played two games fewer. Newcastle host Stoke City and Tottenham travel across London to Queens Park Rangers later on Saturday.
Chelsea, who will try to defend a 1-0 lead in the Nou Camp on Tuesday, are in sixth spot, a point behind Newcastle and Tottenham, with four games left.
Robert Di Matteo’s Chelsea, playing their third game in less six days, made eight changes to the side who beat Barcelona on Wednesday with Didier Drogba, scorer against Barca, not included because of a knee injury.
They were resolute at the back though with John Terry and Gary Cahill, who repelled everything Barca could throw at them in midweek again impressive, restricting Arsenal to few chances, the best of which was a Laurent Koscielny header that smacked the crossbar in the opening period.
“It was a brilliant team performance,” Di Matteo told Sky Sports. “The organisation, team spirit, effort and commitment was great. It was a magnificent point.
“This was our third game in six days which personally I feel is crazy but we showed there is a great quality in this team.”
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said he was surprised the game had not been more open as the Emirates witnessed a first goalless draw this season, following his side’s 2-1 home defeat by Wigan Athletic in midweek.
“It was a starnge game, they decided to lock it up and catch us on the break,” Wenger, who saw Theo Walcott limp off with a hamstring injury, said on Sky. “They waited for us in their half of the pitch and we were not sharp enough to open them up.”
Arsenal created most of the game’s best chances, several of them falling to top scorer Robin van Persie who for once was guilty of profligate finishing.
The Dutchman failed to connect properly from close range early on and then he fired another shot too close to Petr Cech when well-placed.
His best chance to add to his 27 league goals arrived after the break when he sliced a right-footed effort horribly wide.
Chelsea had few chances as they elected to play on the break with Daniel Sturridge denied late on by a last-ditch interception by Koscielny as the ball bounced up in the area.
The battle for the Premier League title continues on Sunday when leaders Manchester United host Everton and second-placed Manchester City go to bottom club Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Date created : 2012-04-21