Chelsea and Arsenal played out a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night in the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg.
The home side had the first attempt on goal after just two minutes, as Alvaro Morata tried to poke an effort in at the near post. However, the Spanish striker could only find the side-netting.
The next attempt on goal did not come until the 20th minute when Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka dragged a long-range free-kick wide of goal. Two minutes later the visitors hit the Blues on the counter-attack, Jack Wilshere feeding the ball to Alexandre Lacazette, who fires wide of Chelsea’s near post.
At the other end of the pitch, Victor Moses took on Ainsley Maitland-Niles before firing a low shot on goal that was kept out by David Ospina a post. On 26 minutes Marcos Alonso saw a cross-shot deflect wide of Ospina’s far post for a corner kick. Moses took on Maitland-Niles yet again on 28 minutes and this time the post came to Ospina aid to keep the effort out.
There was on an interesting moment on the half-hour mark when referee Martin Atkinson used the VAR system, as Calum Chambers shoved Cesar Azpilicueta to the floor on a corner kick. However, the referee decided that a talking to for both players would be sufficient punishment.
Chelsea came back at Arsenal on 35 minutes, but Blues midfielder Danny Drinkwater’s effort from the edge of the area took a bobble and flew over the bar. Blues midfielder N’Golo Kante tried his luck from just outside the area, but the midfielder’s effort went over the bar.
There was controversy on 40 minutes. Thibaut Courtois parried Alex Iwobi’s effort but the Gunners keep the attack alive as Maitland-Niles beat Moses to the ball and the Chelsea man appeared to kick the youngster’s boot, but the Arsenal man belatedly went down in the area. Atkinson uses VAR again but gives a goal kick.
Just before the break, Chelsea should have taken the lead. Azpilicueta fired a cross to the back post to Cesc Fabregas, whose tame header was straight into the arms of Ospina.
The first effort of the second period arrived on 48 minutes and fell for the home side. Kante’s cross was flicked on by Alonso to Andreas Christensen six yards out and the defender headed it over the bar.
Chelsea’s Alonso found space in the Arsenal area, but could not hit the target. Arsenal experienced an injury blow on 54 minutes, as Jack Wilshere picked up an ankle injury. The midfielder hobbled on until the 58th minute, when Mohamed Elneny came on to replace the central midfielder. The substitution followed an effort from Morata from 20 yards out that saw Ospina parry away from goal.
Chelsea came close to taking the lead on the hour mark. Shkodran Mustafi produced a rash challenge on Morata, who got away from the German defender, before firing past the onrushing Ospina and wide of the near post.
The Blues came forward again on 68 minutes. Alonso’s cross found Moses on the right side of the area, only for the wing-back’s effort on goal for Mustafi to produce a superb block to put the effort over the bar. From the resulting corner kick, Christensen headed well wide of the Arsenal goal, despite being completely unmarked.
On 75 minutes, Chelsea substitute Willian tried his luck from long-range and the Brazilian international’s strike took a slight deflection and swerved towards goal, but Ospina saved comfortably. Hazard tried an effort from a tight angle two minutes later, but Rob Holding blocked the strike.
Up the other end, Welbeck saw a shot on goal from just inside the Chelsea box blocked superbly by Chelsea defender Azpilicueta. Chelsea saw a penalty appeal turned down on 87 minutes, as Welbeck challenged Fabregas in the area. On 88 minutes, Cesc Fabregas’ cross from the flank deflected onto the post and out for a corner kick. Referee Atkinson then consulted the VAR about the earlier Fabregas incident and decided not to give the spot-kick.
In the end, Arsenal will be happy with the goalless draw heading into the second leg in two weeks’ time at the Emirates Stadium.
Can Arsenal finish the job in two weeks’ time against Chelsea?