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Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea: Drab stalemate leaves Reds at festive top

Arsenal squandered the chance to go top of the pack at Christmas as they played out a dreadful stalemate with organised London rivals Chelsea at the Emirates.

The result means Liverpool will be top at Christmas before their crucial Boxing Day clash with Manchester City.

Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard came the closest to breaking the deadlock as his volley struck the woodwork after an excellent Eden Hazard chip created the opening.

As Mike Dean blew the final whistle, boos and chants of “Boring, Boring Chelsea” rang out at the Emirates, which adequately summed up Mourinho’s tactics. The adept coach came for a point and deservedly got one, leaving the Blues in a strong position ahead of two decisive home Premier League meetings with Swansea City and Liverpool. Chelsea crowded the midfield, were solid defensively and looked dangerous on the counter-attack, refusing Arsenal the chance to play.

However, Arsene Wenger will feel hard done by after two contentious decisions went against his side. John Obi Mikel could have easily seen red for a crushing 50/50 challenge with Mikel Arteta and in the same sequence of play, Mike Dean correctly dismissed Arsenal’s penalty claims when Theo Walcott , who was then on his descend to the slick Emirates pitch, easily went down under the shadow of Chelsea’s Brazilian midfielder Willian.

Mourinho, who felt John Obi Mikel should not have been sent off for his challenge on Mikel Arteta,  laughed off the accusations, claiming Arsenal’s foreign players “like to cry” about referee decisions ; “You know, they like to cry. That’s tradition.

“But I prefer to say, and I was telling it to the fourth official, that English people – Frank Lampard, for example – would never provoke a situation like that.

“Players from other countries, especially some countries, have that in their blood if you have a contact or the opponent was aggressive.

“Foreign players are bringing lots of good things. They come here because they are talented. But I prefer English blood in football. English blood in this situation is: ‘Come on, let’s go.’

“Today it was important not to lose. But it wouldn’t have been a big surprise if we had won. Arsenal showed a lot of frustration. But we weren’t aggressive, sharp enough to score a goal.”

And Mourinho taunted the Arsenal fans who chanted “Boring Jose” and added: “I agree. I played against them 10 times and I never lost. Funny, funny Jose? 10 times they don’t win once.”

In what was a niggly, messy affair, the first half finally burst into life when Frank Lampard struck the woodwork with a powerful volley, the opening courtesy of a creative and imaginative flick from Eden Hazard, who once again produced an off-colour performance under the Emirates floodlights.

Controversial decisions from Mike Dean rounded off 45 minutes of which were devoid of the anticipation the fixture generated ahead of kick-off.

With Chelsea’s introductions of Oscar and Andre Schurrle unable to make an impact, Olivier Giroud squandered the chance to earn Arsenal victory as a combination of Petr Cech and John Terry, who has played every second of Premier League action this season, kept out the Frenchman while Kieran Gibbs continued to cause Ivanovic all sorts of havoc.

The stalemate will be viewed as two points dropped in the Arsenal camp, who were hoping to end a faltering run evoked by their consecutive defeats at the hands of Napoli and Manchester City. Meanwhile, Chelsea will see the point as their cue to stay in the title race ahead of two decisive festive home fixtures against Swansea and Liverpool. What is sure is, with only a point seperating the top five and with Tottenham and Man Utd seeming revived, the festive period will be crucial for the London heavy-weights.

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