For some teams in the Barclays Premier League, staying with your head above water during the frantically busy holiday season is enough to ensure a job well done. For squads hunting for the trophy, however, getting good results with little rest are of drastic importance.
Thus, Arsenal headed into a December 23rd showdown with third-place London rival Chelsea:
Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Mikel, Lampard; Ramires, Willian, Hazard; Torres.
Arsenal: Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Arteta, Ramsey; Walcott, Ozil, Rosicky; Giroud.
To be blunt, this was a conceded and boring affair. Neither team possessed any cutting edge, nor seemed to have the desire to stick their necks out to find a goal. Arsenal fans had to swallow the point, with a certain confidence drained.
Chelsea midfielder Willian drew many chances, receiving good passes from Eden Hazard out wide on the counter-attack, only to either flub shots at Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczęsny or cut back lacklustre passes across the box.
The best chance of the match went to Chelsea’s Frank Lampard, who ran under a beautiful lob pass from Hazard over Arsenal’s defence to blast a shot off the bottom of the crossbar. It was a narrow escape for the Gunners, who sought to control possession.
Chelsea’s back line however, led by Man of the Match John Terry, went relatively untested and held firm. Arsenal almost found the decisive goal in the eighty-fourth minute, however, when Tomas Rosicky played a nice one-two with left-back Keiran Gibbs, who drilled a low cross into the front of goal.
Olivier Giroud deflected it from two feet away, but Chelsea goaltender Petr Cech tipped it over goal. Every Gunner on the pitch threw their hands up in frustration, rueing their fate and resigned to the draw that inevitably followed.
In all, it played out to an uninteresting affair. Arsenal fans were left chanting “boring, boring Chelsea” in the later parts of the game, alike everyone else sensing Jose Mourinho’s ambition to secure the goalless draw.
For his part, Mourinho responded by saying: “I agree. I played against them 10 times and I never lost, it’s boring. Funny, funny Jose? 10 times they don’t win once.”
Pretty hard to argue that one.