Arsenal and Chelsea played out an entertaining, yet thoroughly frustating 0-0 draw at the Emirates.
Frank Lampard rattled the bar for the Blues while Olivier Giroud wildly miscued when baring down on goal as Arsenal were left gazumped in their chance to celebrate Christmas as the Premier League leaders.
Oscar and Mata were denied starting berths by Jose Mourinho while Arsene Wenger surprisingly opted for Tomas Rosicky ahead of Mathieu Flamini.
Chelsea shut out an incoherent Gunners side from the off, though in truth both sides took time to rise the justifiably-hyped occasion.
Eden Hazard and Lampard took matters into their own hands on the half-hour mark, with the Chelsea veteran latching onto the Belgian’s delightfully-lofted pass to hammer a volley off the underside of the crossbar.
That incident shocked both teams into life, with Torres spinning in the box to test Wojciech Szczesny down to his right before the Gunners were denied a penalty after Willian’s crude challenge on Theo Walcott in the box.
On the stroke of half-time a Chelsea counter – launched off a misplaced Aaron Ramsey pass – allowed Hazard to slip in Willian. However, the Brazilian could only tamely roll the ball into Szczesny’s hands.
The second half started in a similarly combative yet uninventive manner, with neither side able to craft out clear-cut opportunities in the opening exchanges.
Lampard drove straight at Szczesny from the edge of the box after 65 minutes though argie-bargie took centre stage at the Emirates, with a series of niggling fouls preventing either side gaining a real foothold.
With 10 minutes remaining Ramsey found Olivier Giroud with a lofted pass, only for the strike to slice wide with his left foot.
In the game’s last moment of note Giroud was denied by an excellent John Terry/Petr Cech sandwich after getting on the end of Kieron Gibbs’ dangerous ball across goal.
The result left Arsenal unable to leapfrog Liverpool at much-coveted Christmas No.1 spot in the Premier League. Chelsea, meanwhile, rose to fourth.