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Chelsea frustrated by Arsenal stalemate

AFP  |  London 

Chelsea wasted a chance to take control of their League Cup semi-final against Arsenal as the misfiring Blues were forced to settle for a 0-0 draw in Wednesday's first leg.

Antonio Conte's side dominated possession for long periods at -- where the Video Referee system (VAR) was in operation -- but lacked the killer instinct required to take a step towards the final.

They had 21 shots to just eight from Arsenal, yet the tie remains on a knife-edge heading into the second leg at the on January 24.

"We are not so clinical despite creating chances. If you want to win you have to score," Conte said.

"We didn't concede a goal, but we know we play away at Arsenal and we must be ready to fight if we are to play the final."

While it was a frustrating evening for Chelsea as they chase a first League Cup final berth since 2015, the stalemate was a welcome tonic for their rivals.

Arsenal, who also drew both League encounters with Chelsea this season, suffered one of the most chastening defeats of Arsene Wenger's reign on Sunday as second tier Forest won 4-2 in third round.

While Arsenal were well below their best once again, in contrast to their surrender in Nottingham, the Frenchman will be encouraged that they showed enough spirit to keep Chelsea at bay.

"I felt there was great togetherness. I am pleased with the spirit and determination," Wenger said.

"You want first to be solid, but ideally you want to score as well."


Conte had mostly fielded fringe players en route to the last four, but Eden Hazard, back from a calf injury, N'Golo Kante and were called upon with a Wembley showdown against Manchester City or in sight.

Wenger surprisingly left on the bench amid talk of the unsettled forward joining Manchester City, while missed out with a

Wenger was watching from the press box as he serves his touchline ban and the Gunners boss was shifting anxiously in his seat early on when Hazard's pass gave an opportunity that he drove into the side-netting.

After a tepid opening from Arsenal, escaped defence to collect Jack Wilshere's pass, but the French striker wasted the chance as he scuffed a hurried shot wide.

Chelsea wing-back forced into action with a stinging drive that the fumbled before recovering to snatch the ball away from Morata.

- Ineffective -

===============

Moses was proving a problem for young left-back Ainsley Maitland-Niles and the Nigerian found space for another shot moments later, this time his low shot hit Ospina's near post before Arsenal scrambled it away.

was selected despite Wenger saying he could be fined for reportedly partying until the early hours of Saturday morning and the almost repaid his manager's faith with a drive that Courtois pushed away.

When Maitland-Niles went down under pressure from Moses in the area, referee consulted the video referee, but no penalty was given.

Fabregas should have given Chelsea the lead just before half-time, but the former Arsenal wastefully headed straight at Ospina from close range.

fared no better after the interval when defender dived to head over from inside the six-yard box.

Chelsea were piecing together their most convincing spell of pressure, but they couldn't find the finishing touch as Morata's powerful effort was well saved by Ospina.

Wenger's response was to send on Sanchez for the ineffective Lacazette with 25 minutes left, yet within seconds Moses almost broke the deadlock when his goal-bound shot was deflected over by Shkodran Mustafi.

When Christensen headed wide of an open goal after Ospina misjudged a corner, Conte must have feared it wouldn't be Chelsea's night.

So it proved as Willian was denied by Ospina and Fabregas clipped a post in the closing moments.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, January 11 2018. 09:55 IST
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