LONDON - Arsenal missed their chance to return to the top of the English Premier League after being held to a bruising 0-0 draw by title rivals Chelsea in a spiteful London derby on Monday.
This was the final English top-flight fixture before Christmas at the Emirates Stadium as Chelsea battered Arsenal with a series of bruising challenges.
John Obi Mikel was fortunate to avoid a red card after the Chelsea midfielder crunched into Mikel Arteta, while Arsenal also complained they should have had a penalty for Willian's challenge on Theo Walcott.
It was a frustrating night for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who failed to secure his first win over Jose Mourinho at the 10th attempt and as a result saw his side waste an opportunity to climb back above leaders Liverpool.
Instead, second placed Arsenal go into the Christmas program level on points with Liverpool but behind the Anfield outfit on goal difference.
"We should have won it," Wenger said.
"They came here to defend and catch us on the break. We were a bit edgy at the start but we took control in the second half.
"It was 100 per cent a penalty when Theo Walcott was fouled. I don't know why it was not given."
Chelsea, who moved up to fourth and are two points behind Liverpool, finished the more satisfied side after stifling Arsenal with ease and creating the better of the few chances on offer.
"We controlled the game defensively. It was a tactical match, a match where neither side wanted to lose," Mourinho said.
"We want creative players who use the ball and kill opponents. But there are some matches where we have to take one step backwards and play with a different philosophy."
Mourinho sent Chelsea out in a 4-5-1 formation, with Fernando Torres as the lone striker, and that cautious approach worked impressively as Arsenal struggled to find any rhythm.
It didn't help that torrential rain and gale-force winds lashed the Emirates throughout the match, making passing something of a lottery.