April 21, 2012

Arsenal 0 Chelsea 0 (5 PICS)

ROBIN VAN PERSIE left his shooting boots at home as the London rivals battled for a point apiece at the Emirates.
There was no repeat of the eight-goal thriller at the Bridge earlier in the season which the rampant Gunners had won 5-3 — with RVP hitting a hat-trick.

But the prolific Dutchman had enough chances to repeat the treble and take Arsenal EIGHT points clear in third.
Laurent Koscielny also hit the bar for the home side just before the break but Chelsea were frustrated too, with Fernando Torres and Daniel Sturridge both wasting opportunities.
Caretaker Blues boss Di Matteo’s team selection ended any doubt about where his priorities lay ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg.
Resting so many players was a huge gamble with Chelsea’s hopes of finishing in the Premier League top four hanging in the balance.
Eddie Newton, Chelsea caretaker boss Roberto Di Matteo and Steve Holland look on
TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS ... Chelsea caretaker boss Roberto Di Matteo (centre) watches the action
Arsenal made a tentative start, with Torres wasting a good four-on-three chance and Salomon Kalou going down in the box to no avail after colliding with Bacary Sagna.

Tomas Rosicky had already tested Petr Cech with a low drive when Michael Essien needlessly tripped Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 13th minute.
Arsenal's resulting 25-yard free-kick should have given them the lead but Van Persie somehow conspired to poke Walcott’s pass against the post from no more than three yards.
Kalou wasted a glorious opportunity when he beat the onrushing Wojciech Szczesny to Florent Malouda’s ball over the top but his touch let him down.
Chelsea's keeper can only watch as Laurent Koscielny's header hits the crossbar
CECH THIS OUT ... Chelsea's keeper can only watch as Laurent Koscielny's header hits the crossbar
The same could be said for Torres, who was proving just how much Chelsea needed the injured Didier Drogba to be fit on Tuesday night.
Both sides were briefly down to 10 men after a nasty clash of heads between Sagna and Malouda, with the latter coming off worse.
Rosicky was booked for a late tackle on Essien as Chelsea continued to frustrate Arsenal, nullifying them even more effectively than they had Barca.
Arsenal's Theo Walcott lies injured on the pitch

THEO WOE ... Arsenal's Theo Walcott was forced to limp off




Ryan Bertrand screamed for a penalty after being bundled over by Sagna, although the contact was outside the box anyway.
Three minutes before half-time, Arsenal hit the woodwork again, an unmarked Koscielny heading Van Persie’s free-kick against the bar.
Then Cech came to the rescue when Van Persie drilled Alex Song’s pass straight at him in the dying seconds.
Chelsea started the second half on top, although Malouda was booked for tripping Van Persie, who immediately followed suit by needlessly hacking down Essien.
Torres wasted a good chance to thread in Kalou before Cahill was carded for upending Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Chelsea's Fernando Torres has another disappointing afternoon
FRUSTRATION ... Chelsea's Fernando Torres has another disappointing afternoon
There was concern for Arsenal — and England — when Theo Walcott pulled up with a hamstring strain and, although he briefly continued, he had to be replaced by Gervinho on the hour mark.
Rosicky soon followed for Abou Diaby as Chelsea’s final ball continued to let them down on the break, the visitors bringing on John Obi Mikel for Romeu.
Arsenal’s final change saw Oxlade-Chamberlain off for Andre Santos and Ashley Cole and Juan Mata came on from Chelsea.
Mike Dean waved play-on as Van Persie went down theatrically in the box with 10 minutes to go and Cole was cautioned for a cynical foul as tempers started to fray.
The Arsenal skipper then sliced a horrible shot wide with his right foot having found space in behind the Chelsea defence.
Van Persie still had time for one more effort, twisting back and forth and only allowing Cech time to advance to block the resulting strike.
The point leaves Chelsea in sixth with all eyes on the trip to Barcelona on Tuesday night.

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