Summary: Arsenal missed the chance to tighten their grip on third place after being held to a goalless draw by Everton in a close fought encounter at the Emirates Stadium.
The stalemate does little to aid either sides Champions League hopes with Arsenal now leading Chelsea and Tottenham by just two points while Everton remain two adrift of the top-four.
It was the Toffees who started brighter and should have led as early as the seventh minute. Phil Jagielka’s defence splitting pass found Steven Pienaar in the penalty area but he could only guide his shot over the bar under pressure from Wojciech Szczesny.
With the game taking on a physical edge Darron Gibson was lucky to remain on the field after he was booked just before the half hour for a challenge on Theo Walcott and possibly should have been sent off six minutes later for body checking the same player.
Victor Anichebe then wasted a good opening for the visitors just before half time prior to Oliver Giroud firing wide from Aaron Ramsey’s fizzed cross. Santi Cazorla then stung the palms of Tim Howard after the break while teenager Ross Barkley was inches away from breaking the deadlock with a thunderous 20-yard effort at the other end.
Ultimately though neither side could make the breakthrough as their defences held firm with Arsene Wenger’s substitutions, which proved the difference against Norwich on Saturday, failing to change the game.
Arsene Wenger post-match…“The game was basically down to physical intensity, it was unbelievable from first to last minute. The referee let a lot go unpunished and in the end we put a lot of effort in. Maybe we used too much power instead of placing the ball.”
David Moyes post-match…“The games are running out now so it’s harder and harder for us to get into the top four. Probably we will get talked about at the end of conversations about the Champions League as we are rank outsiders. But there’s no shame in getting a draw here.”
Good night for…Ross Barkley: The 19-year-old was surprisingly given the nod by David Moyes ahead of veteran Phil Neville and justified his selection with a display well beyond his years and went close to giving Everton the lead with a thumping 20-yard drive in the second half.
Bad night for…Oliver Giroud: A wasteful evening for the Arsenal striker who was barely given a kick by Everton’s uncompromising rearguard. On the rare occasion an opening was created Giroud’s potency deserted him at the crucial moment.