Stalemate at the Bridge as Chelsea and Arsenal play out goalless draw, with VAR technology takes centre stage

Chelsea and Arsenal played out a goalless draw in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final at Stamford Bridge tonight.

The tie will now be decided when the teams meeting in a fortnight’s time at the Emirates Stadium, with a place in the final up for grabs.

Chelsea had the better of the possession and chances, but Arsenal produced a resolute performance to earn their second goalless draw of the season at Stamford Bridge.

VAR technology was in use tonight. Referee Martin Atkinson had a penalty decision to take at either end, but on both occasions decided not to award spot-kicks.

The first involving a challenge on Ainsley Maitland-Niles by Victor Moses late in the first half, and the second a challenge by Danny Welbeck on Cesc Fabregas late in the second half.

This is what Arsene Wenger had to say speaking to Sky Sports after the match:

“I felt there was great togetherness, we didn’t give many chances away. I am pleased with the spirit and determination.

“You want first to be solid, ideally you want to score as well. We were close a few times.

On the use of VAR, first on the penalty call involving Victor Moses and Ainsley Maitland Niles: “I didn’t see the replay on television. They made that decision so you have to respect it.

And on the late penalty decision involving Cesc Fabregas and Danny Welbeck: “I felt it took too much time.”

On Arsenal’s growing list of injuries, which Jack Wilshere has now joined with an ankle problem: “At the moment we have five big injuries. The earliest to come back is Aaron Ramsey and that is quite welcome because that is an area where we are quite short at the moment.”

Antonio Conte made nine changes to the side that drew with Norwich City in the FA Cup on Saturday. Only Danny Drinkwater and Antonio Rudiger retained their places in the side. Eden Hazard returned after missing the trip to Norfolk with a groin problem.

Arsene Wenger named Alexis Sanchez on the substitutes bench. Whilst Mesut Ozil was in the squad. Alexandre Lacazette, Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi formed the front three for the Gunners. David Ospina retained his place in-goal. Jack Wilshere captained the side.

Chelsea started brightly with Eden Hazard’s pass in the first two minutes beating the Arsenal’s offside trap, but Alvaro Morata only found the side netting with his shot.

Arsenal’s best chance in the opening exchanges came from a Jack Wilshere through ball over the top of the Chelsea defence which found Alexandre Lacazette in space. But the Frenchman’s shot went high, wide and not so handsome over the bar.

At the other end Victor Moses cut in from the right aside of the penalty area but his shot was parried by David Ospina. The keeper was able to gather the ball before Alvaro Morata had the chance to follow-up.

Moses was again denied by Ospina  again as the match headed towards the 30th minute mark.

Shkodran Mustafi headed over the bar from a corner in the 32nd minute.

Arsenal’s only attempt on target in the first period came five minutes before the break.

Alex Iwobi’s shot from the edge of the penalty box was parried by Thibaut Courtois.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles went down under a challenge from Victor Moses. Referee Martin Atkinson consulted VAR but ruled it was not a penalty.

On the stroke of half-time Cesc Fabregas headed Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross over the bar from six yards out.

Jack Wilshere was replace, after picking up an ankle injury, by Mohamed Elneny as the match headed into the final thirty minutes.

Shortly afterwards Alvaro Morata beat David Ospina to the ball but from a tight angle could only find the side netting with his shot.

Alexis Sanchez replaced Alexandre Lacazette as the match entered its final twenty-five minutes.

It was Chelsea though who continued pressing for the opening goal.

A  Victor Moses shot from the edge of the box was deflected behind for a corner by Shkodran Mustafi.

From the corner, Andreas Christensen headed wide from four yards out.

Marcos Alonso who has a habit of scoring against Arsenal was then denied when his 25-yard shot was saved by David Ospina.

With the match in the final five minutes, Granit Xhaka’s has a shot from 25 yards was easily held by Thibaut Courtois.

A Cesc Fabregas’ cross from the right hand side was deflected onto the outside of the post as the hosts pressed for a late winner.

As the match headed into injury time. Danny Welbeck brought down Cesc Fabregas. Again after checking on his VAR headset referee Martin Atkinson decided not to point to the spot.

The match ended all square and it’s all to play for in the second leg.

Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Chambers, Mustafi, Holding, Maitland-Niles, Xhaka, Wilshere (Elneny), Iwobi, Welbeck, Lacazette (Sanchez)