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Arsenal And Chelsea Battle To 0-0 Draw

Mourinho-Wenger2The Emirates erupted in chants of ‘Boring, boring Chelsea’, but to Jose Mourinho and the Chelsea papers the frustration of the Arsenal fans was music to their ears.

After seeing his side outplayed at home to Manchester United last week, but still winning the game Mourinho said he did not care about preferring substance over style in the win:

“Once you decide to play this way, the statistics don’t matter, only the result does,” he said after the match

Mourinho could have repeated the same quote today as the champions-elect killed the game off in the second half, with a suffocating big blue blanket over the action. U

The reaction of the Chelsea players at the final whistle showed that they believe the title race is over after the 0-0 draw.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho extended his unbeaten run against Arsenal counterpart Arsene Wenger to 13 matches, and the Blues can wrap up the title in the week ahead with victories at Leicester and Crystal Palace. Ten points separate leaders Chelsea from the third-placed Gunners, who are level with Manchester City in second but have a match in hand over last season’s champions.

In an echo of last week’s win over Manchester United, Chelsea often conceded possession to Arsenal while the Gunners never seriously tested Blues goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

Mourinho’s intentions were clear from the beginning as he went sent out a side without a recognized striker, opting to play Oscar in a false No.9, supported by Eden Hazard and Ramires with Cesc Fabregas positioned alongside Nemanja Matic in a holding role. As expected, the former Arsenal captain was roundly booed every time he touched the ball.

The Gunners had the best of the opening exchanges with Olivier Giroud having the first half chance, when he collected the ball with his back to goal and flicked it over his head, but Courtois was alert to the danger.

Chelsea almost snatched the lead on the counter attack in the 16th minute. A long pass up-field from Fabregas split the Arsenal defence, and allowed Oscar to run clear. David Ospina rushed off his line, and clattered into the Brazilian, who had touched the bouncing ball goalwards. Hector Bellerin dashed back to head clear off the line and behind for a corner.

Chelsea players and fans were incensed that referee Michael Olivier did not award a penalty and send the Arsenal goalkeeper off. If the collision had taken place anywhere else on the pitch it would have been a foul.

Fabregas then went down just inside the Arsenal penalty under a challenge from Santi Cazorla. Referee Olivier was perfectly positioned and signalled for a free-kick against the Chelsea midfielder, who was cautioned for diving – much to the delight of the home supporters.

The Arsenal fans were soon screaming for a penalty at the other end when, after 33 minutes, Bellerin cut the ball back to Cazorla and his rising shot hit the left arm of Gary Gahill at point-blank range. Again, though, the referee waved play on. Chelsea carved Arsenal open when Willian charged down the left flank and played in Ramires, but the Brazilian’s first-time flick was too close to Ospina, who got down to make the save.

Just before half-time, a scramble in the Chelsea penalty area ended with Mesut Ozil turning to fire a snapshot straight at Courtois. Chelsea made a change for the second half, with Didier Drogba replacing Oscar, who was said to be suffering from suspected concussion as a result of his collision with the Arsenal goalkeeper.

Despite the switch, Chelsea soon settled back into their rhythm, the visitors happy to break up Arsenal possession and then look to quickly counter. When Arsenal did get some space on the overlap, Nacho Monreal’s low cross from the left was knocked behind by Terry as Sanchez closed in.

Willian was booked for a high boot in the face of Koscielny. The deep free-kick into the penalty area caused some panic, with the loose ball dropping back to Per Mertesacker, and the giant German defender dragged his shot well wide. Arsenal made a positive change for the final 14 minutes as defensive midfielder Francis Coquelin was replaced by Danny Welbeck.

Chelsea remained just as difficult to breakdown, with Theo Walcott the next man off the Arsenal bench aiming to inject some life into the closing stages. Welbeck failed to connect with Monreal’s cross through the six-yard box in stoppage time, and the final whistle heralded celebrations from Terry and team-mates,

Arsenal’s slender hopes of catching Chelsea dealt a huge blow. Chelsea now head to Leicester City for Wednesday night’s match with the title an apparent formality.