Arsenal 0 Chelsea 0

Arsenal and Chelsea were left to share the points as this London derby between these old rivals ended in a hard fought stalemate, and in controversy too. Jon Obi Mikel should have been red carded for his crude first half lunge on Mikel Arteta after 36 minutes. As play continued however, the Gunners were denied a stonewall penalty when Willian’s clumsy challenge bundled over Theo Walcott. It was possibly a sequence that referee Mike Dean will reflect on, and realise that he made the wrong judgement.

Arsene Wenger’s men toiled on a difficult evening, creating the chances against Chelsea, but could not force their way through past opponents who dug in. Incessant rain and swirling wind made it even harder on the evening. The Gunners’ boss, however, felt that his side did enough to take the victory.

“We should have won it,” said Wenger. “They came here to defend and catch us on the break. We were a bit edgy at the start but we took control in the second half and should have won it. Overall we are happy with the point.”

He added: “It was a game of very few chances and we couldn’t take ours. If you cannot win the game don’t lose it.”

This match was an opportunity for Arsenal to demonstrate their title credentials against their rivals, themselves looking to regain the Premiership. Arsenal also would have wanted to avenge the League Cup defeat to the Blues two months ago.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho had set-up his side to have a distinctly defensive outlook and as a result, the Arsenal’s players were required to be patient as they attempted to find a way past their opponents in a cagey start to this encounter.

Chelsea’s tactics changed little through the match, and the visitors created little to trouble Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

Arsenal’s best chance of the first half came on 25 minutes after a clever move from the home side. It began with Aaron Ramsey, who released Bacary Sagna with an intelligent pass.

The French full-back flew down the wing before delivering a fine cross into the penalty area. Olivier Giroud, whose movement was of the highest order, looked set to put the ball away, but Chelsea’s Gary Cahill intercepted the danger.

Chelsea responded through Frank Lampard, who saw a volleyed effort lash the crossbar. It was the closest that the visitors got to scoring on the night. “I am not unhappy with the result,” said Mourinho. “We came to win, but we didn’t want to lose.”

On 36 minutes, referee Mike Dean made two decisions within moments of one another which went against Arsenal.

Chelsea midfielder Obi Mikel should have received his marching orders for a dangerous lunge on Arteta. Despite the Spanish midfielder being left writhing in agony, play continued.

Arsenal broke through Walcott, who collected the ball in the penalty area. However, the England winger looked to have been bundled over by Chelsea’s Willian. Again, the official was well positioned, but chose to turn away Arsenal protestations.

Wenger said: “It was 100 per cent a penalty when Theo was fouled, in my mind there is no doubt. I don’t know why it was not given.”

Mourinho, however, was scathing about the Arsenal reaction. “They like to cry,” added Mourinho, when asked about the Mikel challenge. “It was a hard and aggressive tackle. Football is for men. It is a game of contact.”

Things remained finely balanced into the second half. For all their efforts, Arsenal were struggling to find a breakthrough against the visitors who seemed content to force an opening by breaking on the counter attack. However, opportunities continued to come Arsenal’s way.

On 78 minutes, Giroud came close to putting his side ahead when he nearly converted a tricky chance. The impressive Rosicky, full of ideas and energy on a difficult evening to play football, found Ramsey, whose pass picked out Giroud in space. The Frenchman slammed his shot into the side netting.

Sagna saw his header get the better of Cech but Cesar Azilipicueta was there to clear off his line.

Giroud had another goal-scoring opportunity late on, but a combination of Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech and John Terry blocked his close range effort. It was that sort of night, with chances at a premium. After two points from their last three Premiership games, the Gunners must rediscover that winning habit which kept then at the top of the table.

Arsenal, who are now second in the Premieship, travel to West Ham United on Boxing Day before travelling to Newcastle United three days later. Their heavy Christmas fixture list ends with the visit of Cardiff City on New Year’s Day.