Arsenal and Chelsea share scrappy draw to keep Liverpool top of table

Gary Cahill of Chelsea tackles Olivier Giroud of Arsenal in a wet and windy match in north London

Story highlights

  • Arsenal and Chelsea held to goalless draw at Emirates Stadium
  • Liverpool stay top of English Premier League but level on points with Arsenal
  • Chelsea are fourth behind Manchester City
  • Tim Sherwood is named as Tottenham head coach until end of 2014/15 season

The last English Premier League game before the holidays was not the Christmas cracker it had promised to be.

Under teeming north London skies, Arsenal and Chelsea played out a goalless draw -- but that was good enough to lift Arsenal level on points with league leaders Liverpool.

Manchester City are third, just one point ahead of Chelsea, as a tight Premier League title fight edged into the festive period.

For the last four seasons, the team who topped the table at Christmas have gone on to lift the silverware at the end of the season but in the overall history of the Premier League only 10 of the 21 Christmas leaders have gone on to clinch the title.

Livepool and Arsenal are tied on 36 points -- with the Merseyside club ahead on goal difference -- while the top eight clubs are separated by just eight points.

The match at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium had survived the rain and high winds that had lashed much of the United Kingdom Monday.

Referee Mike Dean examined the pitch and gave the game the green light but, in a tentative start to the game, the players had to adjust to the blustery and slippery conditions.

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It was a good 20 minutes before Olivier Giroud had a sniff of a chance for Arsenal as he waited in the box for Bacary Sagna's pass only to be denied by the out-stretched leg of Gary Cahill.

At the other end, Ramires headed over the bar while a rocket from Frank Lampard clattered the underside of the bar, although the ball did not cross the goal line.

As the half began to hot up, Arsenal appealed for a penalty after Chelsea winger Willian took a swipe at Theo Walcott but, at the break, the players sought shelter from the London rain with no goals to show for their endeavours.

A tame start to the second half fizzed into life when Ramires chopped down Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta.

The referee had to appeal for calm once more when Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic had a ding-dong with Arsenal's multimillion-dollar summer signing Mesut Ozil.

There was a lot of huffing and puffing but with 70 minutes on the clock the deadlock remained unbroken.

The best chances of the match fell late on to Giroud but the French striker flicked his left-footed shot just wide and then found his attempt to get on the end of a Kieran Gibbs free-kick blocked by the Chelsea defence.

On his knees, Giroud let out a cry of frustration.

It could have been worse had either David Luiz's free kick or corner for Chelsea found the back of the net.

They might not have beaten Jose Mourinho's men but at least Arsenal had avoided the nightmare before Christmas.

"It was a tactical match," Chelsea boss Mourinho summed up to British broadcaster Sky. "Both teams tried to win but both teams were worried about losing."

It was a view his Arsenal counterpart Arsene Wenger shared, commenting: "When you can't win games don't lose it -- that's what we did. It's a solid point."

Sherwood gets Tottenham job

There was also some business to be concluded on Monday night in another of the Premier League's London clubs as Tottenham named Tim Sherwood as its head coach until the end of the 2014/15 season.

The former Spurs player stepped up to the role following the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas on 16 December and has been rewarded with the job on a permanent basis.

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy told the club's website: "We were extremely reluctant to make a change mid season, but felt we had to do so in the club's best interests.

"We have a great squad and we owe them a head coach who will bring out the best in them and allow them to flourish and enjoy a strong, exciting finish to the season.

"We believe Tim has both the knowledge and the drive to take the squad forward."

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