Nothing ventured nothing gained

So, Liverpool perhaps have the most to celebrate from this result as they hang on to the Christmas No 1 spot, a position that has remained with the leading festive team for the past four seasons right until the trophy has been handed out on the final day.

But they will not be partying too hard on Anfield as they were the last club to blow it from this position before and a goalless draw in north London could even give the Premier League leaders something to worry about.

Olivier Giroud could so easily have won it for Arsenal bar a bad miss towards the end, but a point apiece for the Londoners means there is now only a win between top and fifth place in the table.

And Chelsea look better placed for the long haul than Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool. Manchester City will have something big to say about it too, while Manchester United, written off weeks ago, are only eight points back.

Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea certainly put on a better performance than the Liverpool side that came here and were outplayed only last month.

Then again, Mourinho does not know what it is like to lose to Arsenal — this was his 10th taste of competition against Arsene Wenger without losing — and he clearly knew the value of a pre-Christmas point from the way he set-up a defence-minded team.

He made six changes from the League Cup losers against Sunderland last week and sent out a midfield prepared to do battle. And battle they did. How Mike Dean only felt forced to book three players in total remains a mystery. Arsenal will forever feel they deserved a first-half penalty, too, for a Willian foul on Theo Walcott.

For it is Arsenal, though only behind Liverpool on goal difference now, who were the big losers last night. This was their chance to show their true title intent. A draw is not disastrous, of course, but they have now taken only two points from their last three games and that is not title-winning form.

Arsenal have lost their early season fluency, Aaron Ramsey has reverted to his honest, hard-working, uninspiring self and Giroud has stopped nicking every other chance. How they need a win at London rivals West Ham on Thursday to restore some confidence, which is looking increasingly fragile.

Their cause is far from lost though, and they showed some sprit for a fight against a tough Mourinho side, but they will struggle to outplay sides as they did at the start of the season.

Chelsea, meanwhile, look well set for the season ahead. They rarely looked like scoring, aside from a Frank Lampard effort against the crossbar. They also rarely looked like conceding and that is often the mark of a championship-winning side.

That said, the spectre of Manchester City still looms heavily over both of these sides as they seem the only team really capable of destroying opposition now.

“Boring, boring Chelsea” sang the Arsenal fans at the final whistle. They have a point, but the dull Arsenal teams of years gone by won a few trophies along the way too.


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