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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 April, 2005, 20:53 GMT 21:53 UK
Chelsea 0-0 Arsenal
Arsenal's Gilberto (left) tries to dispossess Chelsea's Joe Cole
Chelsea will have to wait until at least Monday to clinch the Premiership title after holders Arsenal held them to a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge.

Arsenal started well with Robert Pires hitting the crossbar and then missing a great chance with a shot from eight yards in the opening minutes.

Chelsea edged into the game with Jens Lehmann saving from Didier Drogba.

And the home team created the better chances after the break, with Drogba and Frank Lampard twice going close.

After picking up their 23rd clean sheet of the Premiership season, Chelsea's 50-year wait to win the title is now almost over.

If Jose Mourinho's team beat Fulham on Saturday and Arsenal fail to defeat Tottenham in Monday's north London derby the Premiership title will belong to Chelsea.

Current holders Arsenal, in good form having conceded just one goal in their previous eight games, clearly wanted to prove a point.

They went into the match without Thierry Henry but started at a breathtaking pace, crisply passing the ball and rattling their opponents.

Their early endeavour almost paid dividends when Jose Antonio Reyes's far-post knockdown dropped beautifully for Pires, whose volley crashed flush against the crossbar and rebounded to safety.

If Pires was unlucky with the volley, he was guilty of a poor miss after 10 minutes, missing the target after Chelsea had failed to clear a corner.

After a sluggish start the home team gradually imposed themselves on the contest and finally threatened midway through the half, Eidur Gudjohnsen heading wide.

It was not vintage Chelsea but their defensive structure improved as the match wore on and from that platform they went on to create the better chances.

Just after the half-hour mark Damien Duff played Drogba through but the striker's angled shot was saved by Lehmann.

Joe Cole then broke into the Arsenal box, but Drogba's cutback was extremely poor and the visitors eventually cleared.

Cole did have a shooting opportunity just before the break - and though he missed the target from a tight angle his team finished the half on top, happy to stifle Arsenal and strike on the break.

Chelsea continued to defend deeply and in numbers after the interval, forcing Arsenal to search for the killer pass.

And having patiently absorbed pressure they almost scored, Drogba swivelling and shooting just wide after collecting Duff's low cross.

A superb dummy from Drogba created an even better chance for Lampard, but he could not keep his shot on target.

Arsenal did not manage a shot on target after the break until the 78th minute, Cech easily saving Pires' tame effort.

And Chelsea almost snatched victory in injury-time but Drogba's free-kick went over Lehmann's goal.


Chelsea: Cech, Johnson, Terry, Gallas, Ricardo Carvalho, Cole (Tiago 79), Lampard, Makelele, Duff (Kezman 85), Gudjohnsen (Jarosik 90), Drogba.
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Huth.

Booked: Cole.

Arsenal: Lehmann, Cole, Toure, Senderos, Lauren, Silva, Fabregas (Aliadiere 81), Vieira, Pires, Bergkamp (Van Persie 78), Reyes.
Subs Not Used: Edu, Campbell, Almunia.

Booked: Vieira, Pires, Reyes.

Att: 41,621

Ref: S Bennett (Kent).




WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: Chelsea's Petr Cech


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