Arsenal title hopes dented by lacklustre draw

Arsenal 0 Blackburn Rovers 0

Arsenal were left frustrated as their Barclays Premier League title hopes suffered a setback after struggling Blackburn battled to a goalless draw at Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners - who now trail leaders Manchester United by seven points with a match in hand - had plenty of possession, but were unable to really test Paul Robinson.



Rovers - who had lost five of the last eight matches - grew in confidence and survived the sending-off of midfielder Steven Nzonzi to earn a useful point in their battle against relegation.



With United having coming from behind to win at West Ham earlier this afternoon, Arsenal could not afford another off day following two successive draws before the international break - but that is exactly what transpired.



It had been a positive start by the Gunners, with fit-again Theo Walcott looking lively down the right.



After four minutes, the England winger got away to the edge of the Rovers box before squaring to Alex Song and his shot was deflected behind.



Walcott was proving too hot to handle and his low centre across goal was hacked clear by Ryan Nelsen before he was then denied at the near post by Robinson.



Rovers - just a point above the drop zone - were in danger of being overrun.



However, Steve Kean's men were given some respite when full-backs Martin Olsson and Bacary Sagna collided when going for a 50/50 on the touchline, leaving the Rovers man worse off.



Samir Nasri then needed treatment for a clash of heads with Nelsen, returning with a thick bandage.



That break in play interrupted Arsenal's flow and on 23 minutes, Rovers had an opportunity when Laurent Koscielny tripped David Hoilett 22 yards out in a central position.



Brett Emerton, however, smashed the free-kick high into the stands.



Arsenal were soon back on the offensive and broke quickly when Robin van Persie fed Nasri on the overlap, but as the Frenchman cut the ball back on to the penalty spot, Jack Wilshere somehow stabbed his first-time shot wide.



Manuel Almunia had been a spectator, but the keeper was almost embarrassed when Olsson's 25-yard effort took a slight deflection and he was left out of position as the ball bounced off his gloves and rolled just past the post.



Hoilett then cut inside Sagna before darting into the penalty area only to skew his shot wide.



Walcott burst clear from a quick throw-out, but had no support and eventually dragged his shot wide from 20 yards.



Rovers sent a long ball into the Arsenal box from a free-kick in their own half, which Almunia failed to punch and Nzonzi saw his backward header drop just wide.



Again the hosts started brightly at the restart as Van Persie got away down the left to force a corner, which the Dutchman went across to take and then whipped straight across the face of goal.



The game, though, soon slipped back into the same pattern as Rovers continued to break up Arsenal's attacks with relative ease.



Frustrations boiled over again when Wilshere elected to pass back to Andrey Arshavin rather than shoot, the ball going behind for a corner, which Koscielny guided goalwards but Robinson held.



Wenger had seen enough and with 32 minutes to go, sent on Captain Cesc Fabregas, replacing Arshavin, on his return from a hamstring injury.



Arsenal, however, continued to lack a creative spark in the final third as time and again they failed to find the decisive pass.



Van Persie made space for a low shot at the edge of the area, but Robinson was down quickly.



Wilshere needed treatment after falling on his shoulder when sliding for a loose ball on the far side.



On 76 minutes, Rovers were reduced to 10 men when Nzonzi was shown a straight red card after jumping in two-footed on Koscielny.



Wilshere's quick feet saw the ball pulled back for substitute Marouane Chamakh on the penalty spot, but his shot was blocked by Olsson's brave dive.



Robinson produced a fine save from Chamakh's deflected header, but the whistle had already gone for a push by the Moroccan.



Fabregas smashed a 25-yard free-kick into the wall as Arsenal's frustration continued.



Michel Salgado blocked Bendtner's goalbound header off the line, and Van Persie nodded over in stoppage time to leave Arsenal counting a costly third successive draw.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker