After Arsenal’s 3-5 hammering of Andre Villas-Boas’ side at Stamford Bridge, we’d come to expect great things from the clash at the Emirates towards the business end of the season. At stake was a bid for a spot in the top four, although Arsenal were clearly the ones sitting prettier. The Gunners would have loved to put to rest any questions about whether they’d be able to beat the Blues in back-to-back encounters, while quite a large portion of the travelling Blues faithful saw this as an opportunity to exact some revenge.
But then, as in all great tales, arose a twist. Chelsea who had just unexpectedly beaten Barcelona at Stamford Bridge in the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals suddenly had precious little to play for, in this game. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Chelsea were going to let this game slide, in a manner of speaking. Roberto di Matteo made 8 changes to the side, putting out – in effect – a second string side.
But an Arsenal cakewalk it wouldn’t prove to be, as the woodwork denied van Persie and Koscielny. For someone who allegedly scores when he wants, van Persie would go on to miss two more chances, while Sturridge, Kalou and Torres had whiffs of the goal. The game ended in a stalemate, and while Arsene Wenger was disappointed his team couldn’t take all 3 points, his side clearly cemented their Top 4 chances. Chelsea on the other hand, were staring at achieving the near impossible if they were to play Champions League football in the next season. They eventually did, but that’s a story for another day.