Chelsea will travel to the Emirates in the second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final with a point to prove after wasting their home advantage with a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
The scales were seemingly balanced as a Chelsea side that dominated possession but ultimately lacked conviction, was matched by a defensively composed Arsenal that kept out Alvaro Morata and co in what seemed like infinite attacking pressure.
Overall, the final quality of the finishing was poor across the game, with only eight shots on target in the entire game.
Both sides started the game with a view to capitalising early in the tie, a stance that was only held on by Chelsea as the game progressed.
Morata, who took a through-ball from Cesc Fabregas after just 90 seconds but ended up finding the side netting.
Victor Moses had two decent chances, cutting in from the right-wing to be denied by both the post and Ospina.
Arsenal’s best chance of the game came in the first half, with a lofted through-ball from Jack Wilsheresplitting the defence for Alexandre Lacazette, only for the Frenchman to fire high into the stands.
The hot-topic video assistant referee was needed as both sides had penalty shouts either side of the half-time whistle, with the decisions taking up a sizeable chunk of time.
Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles went down in the box after a challenge from Victor Moses that was eventually deemed to be fair, as was Danny Welbeck’s challenge on Cesc Fabregas in the 89th minute.
Chelsea looked to take the second half by the scruff of its neck, with a flurry of chances right from the off, including a golden opportunity from Andreas Christensen who headed over from a corner.
The Blues took their greater possession of the ball and turned it to their advantage as Arsenal’s defence continued to be tested.
Marcos Alonso failed to capitalise from a corner after not getting a clean connection on a free header before Alvaro Morata’s long-range effort was parried away by Ospina.
Arsene Wenger, whose touchline ban forced him to watch the game from the stands, suffered an unfortunately familiar sight as his side had more injury woes dumped on them.
Jack Wilshere suffered a nasty ankle knock after blocking a well-hit cross and had to be substituted, despite having been Arsenal’s best player until that point.
Alexis Sanchez, who had been dropped to the bench, was brought on just after the hour mark for Alexandre Lacazette, with the Frenchman having another bleak night in his decidedly
average debut season.
Arsenal mounted a minor attempt to snatch a late goal but failed to put any real sting into their attack despite the presence of Sanchez.
The draw leaves Arsenal with the home advantage going into the second-leg, which will be played at the Emirates Stadium on January 24th, before the final on February 25th.