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)

Leave a comment

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.

LINEUPS

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.

Viktoria Plzen set to sign midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz

Obafemi Martins, Oniel Fisher, Andreas Ivanschitz
Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
Leave a comment

PRAGUE (AP) Czech champion Viktoria Plzen is close to signing Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz.

Plzen says Ivanschitz agreed terms for a contract lasting 1 + seasons and will sign it when the team returns from a training camp in Spain. Ivanschitz has already joined the squad at the Oliva Nova resort, the club says.

Ivanschitz helped the Seattle Sounders win their first MLS Cup in December.

[ NEW HOMES: Fonte | Berahino ]

No financial details were given.

The 33-year-old Ivanschitz also played for Rapid Vienna and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Mainz in the Bundesliga, Levante in Spain and Panathinaikos in Athens.

Ivanschitz played 69 games for Austria in 2003-14, scoring 12 goals.

FIFA allows Matip to represent Liverpool during AFCON

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29: Joel Matip of Liverpool heads to score his team's third goal during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on October 29, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images
1 Comment

Joel Matip is going to get to play for Liverpool during AFCON after all.

The center back had turned down the chance to represent Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Liverpool was forced to apply to FIFA for a waiver.

[ PL PREVIEW: Swansea vs. Liverpool ]

Matip suffered an ankle injury in December, adding to his desire to stay at Anfield. He declared himself internationally retired and was one of six Cameroon players who refused call-ups for AFCON.

He last played for the Reds on Dec. 11, and can be selected by Jurgen Klopp against Swansea City on Saturday.

Man United captain Rooney raises $1.5m from charity game

FILE - A Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017 file photo of Manchester United's Wayne Rooney leaving the field after the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, England. Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney says he raised 1.2 million pounds ($1.5 million) for charity from a friendly game against former club Everton last year. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)
AP Photo/Dave Thompson
Leave a comment

MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney says he raised 1.2 million pounds ($1.5 million) from a friendly game against former club Everton last year.

That represents the profits, after operational costs, from August’s sellout match at Old Trafford and goes toward the Wayne Rooney Foundation’s target of raising 5 million pounds for children’s charities.

[ NEW HOMES: Fonte | Berahino ]

Rooney said: “I’d like to thank all the fans who came to the testimonial and made it such a special night. They’ve raised a huge amount of money for children who are disadvantaged and it will make a real difference to their lives.”

Rooney is one goal from breaking Manchester United’s scoring record, with the striker currently tied with Bobby Charlton on 249 goals.

Rooney joined United from Everton in 2004.

WATCH: Lewandowski’s juggling stoppage time winner

Bayern's Robert Lewandowski celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the German soccer Bundesliga match between SC Freiburg and FC Bayern Munich in Freiburg, Germany, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (Patrick Seeger/dpa via AP)
Leave a comment

Robert Lewandowski picked up where he left off.

The Polish striker scored twice for Bayern Munich, once in stoppage time, as the Bavarians improved their Bundesliga lead to six points after toppling Freiburg 2-1 on Friday.

[ MORE: Bundesliga second half preview ]

And what a winner it was, Lewandowski taking a Douglas Costa cross with two juggling touches before hitting an offspeed bouncer inside the post.

It was the league’s first match following the winter/holiday break, giving Bayern a cushion before RB Leipzig takes the pitch against Eintracht Frankfurt in a Top Five tilt on Saturday.

Lewandowski moves closer to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the goal scoring chart. His 13th and 14th goals have him two back of Borussia Dortmund’s striker, as Lewandowski pursues a third Golden Boot in four seasons.

Full Weekend Schedule
Freiburg 1-2 Bayern Munich — Friday
Augsburg vs. Hoffenheim — Saturday
Schalke vs. Ingolstadt — Saturday
Darmstadt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach — Saturday
Werder Bremen vs. Borussia Dortmund — Saturday
Wolfsburg vs. Hamburger SV — Saturday
RB Leipzig vs. Eintracht Frankfurt — Saturday
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin — Sunday
Mainz vs. Koln — Sunday