A rambunctious affair played out at the Emirates, as both sides cancelled each other out in a top of the table clash.

Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea: Stalemate at the Emirates on night of heavy weather, refereeing controversy (video)

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Arsenal will have to settle for a share of the Premier League lead for Christmas after a scoreless draw Monday with Chelsea, a high-tension London derby with far more controversial refereeing moments than actual scoring opportunities.

The bulk of the tough choices went against Arsene Wenger’s club, which has been a bit luckless of late, now without a victory since Dec. 4. (That includes Monday’s draw, a Premier League loss and a Champions League loss.)

Still, the draw with the West London visitors on a rainy and fiercely windy London night was enough to nudge the Gunners back into a first-place tie with Liverpool. Chelsea crept up as well, now aligned with Everton in fourth place.

Referee Mike Dean went lenient Monday on two Chelsea challenges that could have been red cards on another day. And he declined to point to the penalty spot in the first half as the shouts of derision rained down from the Emirates.

It all played into Chelsea’s plan for the day, which was either cynical in its stubbornly defensive approach or “classic and brilliant Jose Mourinho,” depending on your affiliation and point of view.

The pitch mostly played well and true despite the rain coming down in wind-driven sheets. (Truly, the stormy weather was quite awful, even by notoriously dodgy London weather standards.)

A true stalemate of the highest order – concern over conditions or just the weight of a big London derby had both clubs leaning toward caution – did spring to life somewhat after a half hour. First came Frank Lampard’s 34th minute smash off the crossbar, arranged by Eden Hazard’s clever little chipped pass. Minutes later John Obi Mikel was very fortunate to remain on the field after his nasty challenge on Mikel Arteta.

And just minutes after that, a Willian challenge on Arsenal speedster Theo Walcott could have easily convinced Dean to point to the penalty spot. Dean was consistent in his leniency through the night, also declining to show yellow for Tomas Rosicky’s high challenge just before break. Frustration nearly boiled over after intermission.

Chelsea, without Juan Mata to create, settled into a match of mucking it up and waiting for chances on the break. And Mourinho’s team did occasionally look dangerous early, although the visitors’ chances mostly dried up after 30 minutes as Arsenal’s central defense, with Belgian international Thomas Vermaelen, in for the injured Laurent Koscielny, held up.

Opportunities for the home team were almost completely unseen before a couple of flashes near goal over the last 15 minutes, including one good look by striker Olivier Giroud that missed badly at the near post.

Stamford Bridge defensive fixture John Terry was, as usual, in the right spots as he enjoyed an outstanding evening.


Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Rosicky, Ramsey, Ozil, Walcott, Giroud.

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Mikel, Lampard; Ramires, Willian (Oscar, 77), Hazard (Schurrle, 73); Torres.

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia

Jurgen Klopp announced as new Liverpool manager

Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool FC
Liverpool Football Club/Getty Images
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Enough with the speculation and reports already, because it’s finally officially official: Jurgen Klopp has been appointed the newest manager of Liverpool Football Club, the Merseyside club announced on Thursday.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Klopp will be unveiled to the world at an introductory press conference at Anfield on Friday.

According to early reports, Klopp’s three-year contract could pay him as much as $10 million per season.

[ QUOTE KING: Top 10 “Klopp-isms” from his time at Dortmund ]

The 48-year-old German has been out of work since stepping down at Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund following a seventh-place finish to the 2014-15 season. Klopp’s seven seasons in charge of Dortmund weren’t without success and silverware, though, as he led Der BVB to back-to-back league titles in 2011 and 2012, a German Cup triumph in 2012 and a UEFA Champions League final appearance in 2013.

PST’s Joe Prince-Wright will be at Anfield on Friday for Klopp’s unveiling, so be sure to follow JPW on Twitter and check back to PST for wall-to-wall coverage of Klopp’s first press conference as Liverpool manager.