Stubborn Arsenal Hold Blues (Sky Sports)
Chelsea 0 Arsenal 0
The Premiership title will pass from Arsenal to Chelsea, but Arsene Wenger's side were in no mood to surrender their crown to their London rivals.
No longer invincible, but indomitable on the night, Arsenal drew 0-0 at Stamford Bridge. They remain unbeaten against Chelsea this season - a distinction they share with Manchester City - but Jose Mourinho's side maintained their 11-point lead.
It extends Chelsea's Premiership winless streak against Arsenal beyond a decade, back to the days when John Terry was a ball boy and Dennis Bergkamp a new signing at Highbury.
They came into closer contact in an entertaining
stalemate but it was Didier Drogba, who provided the thrust in the Chelsea
attack, and Robert Pires, threatened to break the deadlock at either end.
But the Frenchman's misfortune when he rattled the cross bar, and subsequent failure to score meant Petr Cech recorded a 23rd clean sheet of the Premiership season; defensive superiority and financial muscle is a peerless combination.
However, Pires was inches away from scoring just the 13th Premiership goal against Chelsea this season. His third-minute volley was beautifully struck; the woodwork rescued Cech.
Defensive jitters are a rarity at Stamford Bridge, but there may have been a trace of nerves in Terry's clearance that rebounded off Bergkamp to Pires seven minutes later. The midfielder's smooth sidefoot was misplaced.
After Arsenal's early excellence, Chelsea regained their composure and asserted themselves in attack.
Their route back into the game involved exploiting uncertainty between Philippe Senderos and Ashley Cole on the left of Arsenal's back four. The latter was in (allegedly) his third meeting of the season with Chelsea, the former tested by the speed of the direct Drogba.
He was the common denominator in four promising forays forward. Firstly, the striker's shot was well blocked by Jens Lehmann after passes from Claude Makelele and then Damien Duff split the Arsenal defence.
Then the Ivorian evaded Ashley Cole to cross. It had too much weight for Joe Cole to shoot, but Eidur Gudjohnsen followed up to draw a clearance from the prominent Pires, covering in front of the goal line.
And when Drogba did manage an astute pass to find Joe Cole, his rising shot did not test Lehmann. Then, after the interval, he spun to shoot inches wide.
It set the pattern of the second half where the chances were Chelsea's but the majority of the possession belonged to Arsenal.
An emphasis on the counter-attack may not please everyone - Jose Antonio Reyes apparently finds them boring - but Chelsea's continued deployment of Gudjohnsen in midfield suggests their intentions are attacking. But in a deep-lying role, the Iceland international found himself frozen out by Patrick Vieira and Gilberto Silva.
But there was nothing tedious about Drogba's exquisite dummy to permit Frank Lampard to shoot. He was a fraction wide but, though comparatively subdued, fizzed a free kick wide with 12 minutes remaining.
Drogba's free kick was Chelsea's final chance but, with Senderos and Cole forming a closer alliance and even Pires showing grit in a determined midfield, Arsenal merited their clean sheet.
At the other end, the brave blocking of William Gallas, well-timed tackling of Ricardo Carvalho and steadying influence of Makelele provided Chelsea with another deserved shut-out.
So there were no capital gains at Stamford Bridge and red ribbons remain on the Premiership trophy but, before long, blue will be the colour.
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|2||Shots on Target||2|
|7||Shots off Target||4|
Chelsea Cech, Johnson, Terry, Gallas,
Carvalho, Cole (Tiago 79), Lampard, Makelele, Duff (Kezman 85), Gudjohnsen (Jarosik
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Huth.
Arsenal Lehmann, Cole, Toure, Senderos,
Lauren, Silva, Fabregas (Aliadiere 81), Vieira, Pires, Bergkamp (Van Persie
Subs Not Used: Edu, Campbell, Almunia.
Booked: Vieira, Pires, Reyes.