Match Report: Arsenal 0 – Chelsea 0
It was a rather mundane affair at the Emirates Stadium as we drew 0-0 against Arsenal.
Roberto Di Matteo made eight changes including the introduction of Ryan Bertrand ahead of Ashley Cole, while Fernando Torres replaced Didier Drogba who has a knee injury.
We looked happy to sit back and absorb pressure in the early stages when Arsenal gained possession.
Fernando Torres worked the ball away after some diligent defensive work in the Arsenal half on a couple of occasions but despite moving well in midfield we could not take advantage in attack.
Arsenal wasted a golden chance to take the lead after 14 minutes. Theo Walcott guided a free-kick towards the back post that dropped into the lap of Robin van Persie but he could only stab his finish wide from point blank range.
From there, the first half petered out. Arsenal struggling to find fluency in midfield while our front three of Kalou, Torres and Daniel Sturridge could not conjure up anything in the final third that worked.
Petr Cech remained untroubled until the Gunners carved out a flurry of opportunities as the half drew to a close.
Koscielny headed a Van Persie free-kick against the crossbar before he controlled Alex Song’s pass to force Cech into a good block inside the penalty area.
In the second half the first 15 minutes comprised of a collection of incomplete crosses, mistimed through balls and solid defending from both sides.
Theo Walcott came off just after the hour mark pulling up with a hamstring injury whilst Juan Mata replaced Kalou but despite his best efforts could not instigate much of an improvement.
Van Persie began to find more space as play became stretched in midfield wriggling his way past Chelsea defenders only to see his shot blocked by Petr Cech.
Koscielny had to be alert to slide in and prevent Sturridge shooting from close range.
Arsenal pressed for a late winner with Mikel, almost an extra centre-back, making two vital blocks during the last extra minutes as the stalemate was ensured.
After the match Roberto Di Matteo said:-
‘It’s our third game in less than six days so we are happy with the point away at Arsenal where it is always difficult to play’
‘It is an incredible demand on these players but we showed there’s great quality in this team and the spirit is very high.
‘At the moment we have a lot of players available, we don’t have many injuries. Only time will tell whether we can cope with this schedule.’
‘We are still in the running for fourth spot and we’ve got four games left and only one away. We will fight until the end of the season.’
Attention will now turn to the second leg of the Champions League tie away to Barcelona on Tuesday.
Gill Reeves – CSG Disabled Rep
• 13 Szczesny
• 03 Sagna
• 05 Vermaelen
• 06 Koscielny
• 28 Gibbs
• 07 Rosicky Booked (Diaby – 64′ – Booked )
• 14 Walcott (Gervinho – 60′ )
• 15 Oxlade-Chamberlain (Santos – 69′ )
• 16 Ramsey
• 17 Song
• 10 Van Persie – Booked
• 21 Fabianski
• 11 Santos
• 20 Djourou
• 02 Diaby
• 39 Coquelin
• 27 Gervinho
• 29 Chamakh
• 01 Cech
• 17 Bosingwa – Booked
• 24 Cahill – Booked
• 26 Terry
• 34 Bertrand (Cole – 77′ – Booked )
• 05 Essien
• 06 Romeu (Mikel – 66′ )
• 15 Malouda – Booked
• 09 Torres
• 21 Kalou (Mata – 74′ )
• 23 Sturridge
• 22 Turnbull
• 03 Cole
• 19 Ferreira
• 08 Lampard
• 12 Mikel
• 16 Meireles
• 10 Mata