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Match Report: Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea (Arsenal Fan's Perspective)

Sunday 22nd April 2012
Arsenal and Chelsea shared the spoils in a disappointing, far from entertaining stalemate at Emirates Stadium.

Both sides cancelled each other out with their minds seemingly on other issues. The Gunners appeared still in shock at losing to Wigan on Monday night, while Chelsea - who made eight changes from their energy-sapping win over Barcelona - had one eye on the Champions League semi-final second leg.

The first of surprisingly few chances came on 13 minutes, as Theo Walcott's free-kick was met by Robin Van Persie, but the Dutchman's flick only found the base of the post. That was the only real clear cut opportunity for almost half an hour. Chelsea were more than comfortable with a point and setup to achieve just that, while Arsenal lacked the urgency and penetration to break the visitors down.

The hosts came close twice just before the break, however. Laurent Koscielny thumped a header against the crossbar from Van Persie's free-kick before the Arsenal skipper was denied by Petr Cech after Alex Song had clipped a cross to the back post.

The second half continued to be played at training session pace, with the only notable incident being Walcott pulling up with a hamstring injury; ending his participation in what remains of Arsenal's season and leaving his availability for Euro 2012 in the balance. He was replaced by Gervinho, who was easily the hosts' biggest threat, running at the full-backs in a manner that neither Walcott nor Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain did with any convinction.

The Gunners began to carve out a few more chances. Aaron Ramsey, who grew into the game after a difficult start, found Van Persie with a terrific raking pass but the striker fired horribly over the bar. Substitute Abou Diaby had a shot blocked after a good move, before the home side had a penalty claim turned down when Gary Cahill appeared to throw Van Persie to the floor.

Arsenal's top scorer had another chance on 83 minutes. Song's long pass evaded John Terry and found the Dutchman on the right. With the ball bouncing he snatched at the strike and screwed it wide, unaware that Diaby was coming into the area unmarked to his left.

Gervinho then slipped in Van Persie again, who twisted and turned to lose his man but saw his effort eventually blocked by Cech. It was proving to be a frustrating day, as Van Persie epitomised Arsenal's lack of ruthlessness, not only in front of goal but all over the pitch.

As the game limped towards the final whistle, Chelsea created a rare chance. Juan Mata, who had been brought on by Roberto Di Matteo to add a bit of creativity to the visitors' game, clipped a fine ball into the area. Thomas Vermaelen thought he had dealt with it but the ball was dropping nicely for Daniel Sturridge to strike but the England forward was denied superbly by a last ditch challenge from Koscielny, drawing applause from all corners of the stadium.

A solitary point was no more or less than either team deserved. Chelsea will perhaps be the happier of the sides as Arsenal will feel their opponents were there for the taking having rested so many key players. The presence of Mikel Arteta was sorely missed and the wide players did not receive nearly enough service.

With Newcastle continuing to grow in confidence and the Gunners now two games without a win, 3rd place is far from secure and professional performances need to be restored quickly to prevent Arsenal falling out of the Champions League places.

Man of the Match: Laurent Koscielny. There were limited stand-out performances, but the importance and impeccable execution of the Frenchman's late challenge was typical of his season. Another excellent display from one of only a handful of Arsenal's consistent, reliable performers.
Tom Pyman
Tom is a journalism student at the University of Sheffield and, more importantly, a passionate Arsenal fan. Too many players have come and gone to adopt a favourite but if he had to name one, it'd be difficult to look past Thierry Henry. Or Dennis Bergkamp. Or Freddie Ljungberg. Maybe not Park Chu-Young. He used to regularly attend home games but living three hours away has now made getting to the Emirates every other week a bit tricky. Follow Tom on Twitter @gooner_tom

Total articles: 63

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