The weekend's most anticipated Premier League match is also its last. Arsenal host Chelsea on Monday evening in a match with title implications for both teams.
Which side will emerge with the victory? Can the Gunner go back to the top of the table? Or will the teams share the points?
We'll post live ratings for both sides right here at halftime and full time, so be sure to check back then.
|John Obi Mikel||7||7|
|David Luiz||N/A||No rating|
The match started slowly from an attacking perspective, as both teams appeared determined not to over-commit and make a costly mistake in the opening minutes. The cold, windy, rainy conditions perhaps played a part as well, and at the very least they were not ideal for attacking.
Arsenal began to control possession midway through the half but failed to create clear chances. Instead, Chelsea grew into the game and produced the best chance of the half when Frank Lampard volleyed off the crossbar in the 32nd minute.
The score was 0-0 at half-time.
With defender Laurent Koscielny still injured, manager Arsene Wenger drafted captain Thomas Vermaelen into central defense alongside Per Mertesacker. Wenger opted to leave midfielder Mathieu Flamini on the bench and instead partnered Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta in the deep midfield roles.
Forward Lukas Podolski is back on the bench after a long injury layoff. He could be a valuable option in the second half.
Arsenal had a penalty appeal late in the half when Willian appeared to foul Theo Walcott, but referee Mike Dean waved play on. Moments later, Tomas Rosicky escaped a booking for a high, late challenge on Cesar Azpilicueta.
Just before half-time, Ramsey gave away possession, allowing Chelsea to break. The midfielder, who started the season in such fine form, was not at his best in the first half.
Manager Jose Mourinho left Juan Mata and Oscar on the bench, and instead chose a lineup whose main purpose seemed to be avoiding defeat. The Blues were indeed solid defensively, with Ramires, John Obi Mikel and Frank Lampard showing good discipline in the midfield.
Late in the half, Mikel was fortunate not to be sent off for a high, late challenge on Arteta. Mikel was not whistled for a foul on the play.
Chelsea continued to pack the middle, and Arsenal continued to have trouble breaking them down. The Blues soaked up pressure and broke quickly and dangerously.
Tensions flared midway through the half as Dean finally brandished his yellow card.
Arsenal's attack finally showed signs of life in the final 10 minutes, but neither team could find a goal. The match finished 0-0.
Arsenal's attack only came alive in the closing minutes. Their first real chance came in the 79th minute, when Ramsey's flick created some space for Giroud on the left. But Giroud sliced his shot way off target.
In the 85th minute, Gibbs crossed dangerously for Giroud, but Terry blocked Giroud's attempted shot out for a corner. In stoppage time, Cesar Azpilicueta cleared the ball off Chelsea's line, but it might have been going wide anyway.
Those chances were the closest Arsenal came to scoring.
Curiously, Wenger did not make a single substitution. Ozil was clearly tired long before the end of the match, and Giroud could obviously use a break.
Mourinho was the first manager to make a change, bringing on Andre Schurrle for Eden Hazard in the 73rd minute. Oscar then replaced Willian four minutes later.
Seeing Schurrle was no surprise, but it was interesting to see Hazard come off. Hazard was perhaps Chelsea's most dangerous attacker in the second half.
After missing a few chances, Mourinho seemed to want Chelsea to focus on not conceding in the closing moments. He got his wish.