Arsene Wenger remains without a victory over Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea after Arsenal were shackled in a goalless London derby at the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners boss was bidding for a first victory over his Portuguese adversary at the 10th attempt, knowing that was what his side required to return to the top of the Premier League at Christmas.
But a defensive-minded Chelsea claimed a draw which took them fourth in the standings and Arsenal moved second, behind leaders Liverpool on goal difference.
Wenger has had plenty of shots at masterminding victory over Blues sides managed by Mourinho, who now holds a record of five wins and five draws against the Frenchman.
There were numerous classics in Mourinho’s first Stamford Bridge spell, but the latest bout was not in their class.
Chelsea beat Arsenal on enemy territory in the Capital One Cup in October but their approach in the Premier League was less adventurous.
After 30 minutes of sizing each other up, the contest ignited when Frank Lampard hit the bar and the tackles began to fly in.
John Obi Mikel was fortunate to avoid a red card for a studs-up tackle on Mikel Arteta and, in the same move, referee Mike Dean also opted not to award a penalty when Willian tripped Theo Walcott.
Willian passed up a good opportunity on the counter-attack for a Chelsea side which had set up defensively, putting men behind the ball in an effort to limit the space in which Arsenal’s creative players, such as Mesut Ozil, could work.
Arteta’s right ankle took another hefty blow from Ramires, who was booked, as the second half continued in much the same vein as the first.
Olivier Giroud sliced wide with 11 minutes remaining and was denied by Petr Cech at point-blank range with five minutes to go as the honours ended even, with Mourinho the happier of the managers.
“It was a tactical match,” Mourinho admitted. “A match that Arsenal want to win but didn’t want to lose and Chelsea wants to win but doesn’t want to lose.
“We had the biggest chance of the game, I’m glad we have goalline technology so nobody could complain when Frank Lampard hit the crossbar.
“The goalkeeper was not in the game, we controlled the game defensively.
“We let Mikel Arteta play the ball from side to side, we were completely under control.
“It was important not to lose and be five points behind the leaders.”
Arsenal’s North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur have appointed Tim Sherwood as their new head coach until the end of the 2014-15 season.
Sherwood was among the frontrunners for the job after being named interim manager of the club following the sacking of Andre-Villas Boas last week.