Arsenal stood firm in a Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg stalemate with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
A thrilling 2-2 Premier League draw at the Emirates Stadium a week ago was followed by a cagey encounter here.
The Blues had the better opportunities to take a first-leg lead, but Cesc Fabregas and Andreas Christensen spurned headed opportunities either side of half-time in a 0-0 draw.
Former Gunners midfielder Fabregas wanted a penalty after a Danny Welbeck challenge after 88 minutes, but play continued after referee Martin Atkinson consulted Video Assistant Referee Neil Swarbrick.
What they said
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said: “The performance of Alexis Sanchez and the commitment does not depend on the duration of his contract, just depends on the fact when he’s on the football pitch he wants to play. People don’t know Alexis Sanchez. This is a guy completely focused on playing football. Did you see how he came on today? How he warmed up? Like a player who wants to play football. He can make a difference between what’s going on outside and what’s going on on the football pitch. He doesn’t need to tell me he speaks to anybody else. He doesn’t need to alert the club. He can do it on his own.”
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte said: “We shot 20 times. We created chances to score, but we didn’t take them. I think in the last period we must be more clinical. My speech is not for the strikers. For example, today (Andreas) Christensen had two fantastic opportunities to score. I think we have to improve with all the players, not only the strikers or midfielders.”
Tweet of the match
Comedian – and Arsenal fan – Jack Whitehall (@jackwhitehall) could not resist a joke about Alex Iwobi’s late-night partying ahead of the Gunners’ weekend FA Cup defeat at Nottingham Forest.
Star man – Victor MosesChelsea’s wing-back made plenty of enterprising runs down the right and caused a fair few problems for Arsenal’s young defender Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Moses also came close to giving the Blues a valuable first-leg lead with a couple of low shots which troubled Gunners goalkeeper David Ospina.
Moment of the match
Goalmouth action was at a premium for much of the match but there was a contentious incident in the closing minutes when Fabregas went down in the area under Welbeck’s challenge. Referee Atkinson appeared to consult VAR over the tackle before ruling it did not warrant a penalty, to the frustration of Chelsea boss Antonio Conte.
View from the bench
Arsene Wenger sat in the press box while serving the second game of his three-match touchline ban. The Gunners boss was banished to a position high in the East Stand, next to his gardener, in the February 2017 Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge but, serving another touchline ban at Stamford Bridge, Wenger on this occasion opted to join journalists just behind the tunnel. His seat offered swift access to the dressing room area, television screens for replays, and was within shouting distance of the away dugout.
In with the crowd
Despite little entertainment on the pitch during the first half, there was plenty of banter between the two sets of fans. The Gunners’ healthy travelling following taunted their rivals about the fairly subdued atmosphere inside Stamford Bridge in self-deprecating style, singing “Is this the Emirates?” during the early stages. Chelsea supporters responded, chanting “Arsene Wenger, we want him to stay” in reference to Arsenal’s relative lack of recent success under the Frenchman.
Arsenal failed to win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge for the seventh successive game, while Antonio Conte has now beaten the Gunners just once in seven meetings since taking over as Blues boss in the summer of 2016. The two teams have now drawn four times this season, including the Community Shield.
RatingsChelsea: Thibaut Courtois 6 (out of 10), Antonio Rudiger 6, Andreas Christensen 6, Cesar Azpilicueta 7, Victor Moses 7, Marcos Alonso 5, Danny Drinkwater 5, N’Golo Kante 6, Cesc Fabregas 6, Eden Hazard 6, Alvaro Morata 6. Subs: Willian (on for Drinkwater, 68) 5, Tiemoue Bakayoko (on for Hazard, 84) 5, Michy Batshuayi (on for Morata, 87) 5.
Arsenal: David Ospina 7, Hector Bellerin 6, Rob Holding 6, Shkodran Mustafi 7, Calum Chambers 6, Ainsley Maitland-Niles 5, Granit Xhaka 6, Jack Wilshere 6, Alex Iwobi 5, Danny Welbeck 6, Alexandre Lacazette 5. Subs: Mohamed Elneny (on for Wilshere, 57) 5, Alexis Sanchez (on for Lacazette, 66) 6.
Who’s up next?
Chelsea v Leicester (Premier League, January 13)
Bournemouth v Arsenal (Premier League, January 14)