By Martyn Herman
Arsenal’s hopes of reclaiming top spot in the Premier League in time for Christmas fizzled out in a soggy 0-0 draw with Chelsea at a rain-lashed Emirates Stadium on Monday night.
Festive cheer was in short supply during a turgid 90 minutes in which Chelsea came closest to victory when Frank Lampard’s first-half volley cannoned off the underside of the crossbar.
Arsenal huffed and puffed to break down the rigid blue lines in front of them but never really looked like scoring as the game ended in stalemate to leave Liverpool top of the standings ahead of Arsene Wenger’s London side on goal difference.
Chelsea moved back into fourth spot, above Everton on goal difference, two points behind the top two in the table.
“It was a tactical match. A match that Arsenal wanted to win but didn’t want to lose and Chelsea wants to win but doesn’t want to lose, Chelsea manage Jose Mourinho told BBC Sport.
“We had the biggest chance of the game, I’m glad we have goal-line technology so nobody could complain when Frank Lampard hit the crossbar.
“The goalkeeper was not in the game, we controlled the game defensively. We let Mikel Arteta play the ball from side to side, we were completely under control. It was important not to lose and be five points behind the leaders.
“We want to go in another direction in the future. I am building a team for a long period, not just one season. We want creative players who use the ball and kill opponents. But there are some matches where we have to take one step backwards and play with a different philosophy.”