Arsenal 0 Chelsea 0: A Nervy yet Disappointing Goalless Stalemate
The starting lineups of both sides painted the picture vividly for everyone to see. The Gunners fielded their strongest lineup while Chelsea fielded a second string side because they’ve laid their eggs in different baskets.
Tomas Rosicky drew first blood through a tame shot that was easy pickings for James Blunt’s long lost clone with a Rugby helmet. The Czech dynamo let that shot rip after he was short of options to pass to.
After a long show of sloppiness from the home side, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was infringed in the edge of the area. Theo Walcott swung in the resulting free kick but Robin van Persie’s stabbed effort clipped the post before going wide.
There was a moment Arseblogger would surely have relished when Thomas Vermaelen shoved John Terry in the box forcing the ex-girlfriend shagger to hit the deck really hard. We all know how Arseblogger despises that bloke.
The first scary moment arrived when Wojciech Szczesny was in No Man’s Land from a Chelsea attack but Laurent Koscielny was there to mop things up. After some attacking play from Arsenal, van Persie floated in a free kick to an unmarked Koscielny whose header smashed the cross bar.
Alex Song sent in a trademark projectile to van Persie’s direction but the Dutchman’s effort was saved by Petr Cech in goal. At half time, Martyn shared a tweet in my BlackBerry Arsenal group, Team Gooner Daily:
“@AO1379: Ramsey has lost possession more times in this first half than Xavi has all season”
The second half began with a string of bookings for Florent Malouda and van Persie but a major cause for concern arrived when Theo Walcott pulled up short when he was challenging for the ball. Arsene Wenger had the option of taking him out as a precautionary measure but Walcott wanted to continue only to pull his hammy yet again three minutes later.
The severity of the injury isn’t known yet but Walcott is odds on to have a good time with Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arietta in the physio room till the end of the season.
Le Forehead replaced the English speedster and Abou Diaby made his long awaited return to action in Tomas Rosicky’s place.
Aaron Ramsey floated a superb pass to van Persie but his technique let him down as he misjudged the flight of the ball. Wenger placed his last cards on the deck by bringing on Andre Santos for the Ox that was below par all game long.
After some neat passing in the box, Diaby was on the end of a van Persie lay-up but he smashed his effort on a Chelsea defender. Danny Sturridge had a couple of shots that were saved by Szczesny but a telling moment came late on when Gary Cahill was adjudged to foul van Persie in the box.
Arsenal hasn’t gotten any penalty at home throughout the year and Mike Dean ensured that the record was prolonged for another week at least.
Alex Song chipped another delightful ball over John Terry to RVP but he had a rush of blood to his head and the usually composed van Persie hurriedly fired the shot to the side netting. Gervinho supplied the captain another ball but he had a touch too many before hitting his effort on Cech.
Van Persie almost supplied an inch-perfect assist to Andre Santos but John Mikel Obi made a brilliant interception to kill the attack. At the other end of the pitch, Koscielny made a brilliant last-ditch tackle to thwart Sturridge’s plans of taking a shot.
The ref’s final whistle ensured that Arsenal surrendered two points rather than gaining one. For the first time since that disappointing 0-2 defeat to Liverpool in August, the Gunners were stopped from scoring at home this season.
Chelsea on the other hand, continued their quest for a first London derby win all season long as they have failed to win against Arsenal, Fulham, Tottenham and Queens Park Rangers this season.
Szczesny (7.0) had a decent outing with neat saves to keep his goal well guarded.
Sagna (7.0) didn’t put a wrong foot all game long and also got his head clattered at some point in the match.
Gibbs (7.5) put up a confidence performance on the left and marauded forward a couple of times while balancing his defensive play.
Vermaelen (7.0) didn’t have much to do but he was more than a match for the ineffectual Fernando Torres.
Koscielny (8.0) was a boss at the back and made another goal-saving tackle that kept the scoreline intact.
Song (8.0) supplied so many beautiful passes to van Persie but his captain left his shooting boots at home.
Ramsey (6.5) was a bit sloppy at the start but he gained as the game progressed.
Rosicky (6.5) lacked the spark he had been using to light up the midfield in recent times.
Walcott (7.0) made some incisive passes in the game but he succumbed to a hamstring injury that will cut his season short.
The Ox (6.5) made some surging runs and won a lot of free kicks for his team.
Van Persie (6.5) was toothless in attack.
Diaby (6.0) didn’t influence the game and no better than the player he replaced. Good to see him back though.
Andre Santos (7.0) worked well with Gibbs on the left and supplied some good crosses into the box.
Gervinho (7.5) was ubiquitous on both flanks and did better with his decision making.
A draw against Chelsea is certainly not the worst result in the world but Newcastle is now breathing down the Gunners necks so the game against Stoke is of utmost importance to the Gunners.
Arsene Wenger’s men have had their fair share of history in the Britannia but I believe that the Gunners would see out their remaining challengers to end up in third place.
A place in the Champions League final is up for grabs and I intend to watch every game as a neutral.
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