Chelsea fail to close gap after draw with Spurs
London: Chelsea missed an opportunity to close the gap on fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur as the lunchtime derby in the Premier League ended 0-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Tottenham remain five points above Chelsea in the race for a top-four spot although they wasted the best opportunities in a fixture they have not won since 1990.
A draw moved them level on 55 points with third-placed Arsenal who were at home to Aston Villa later on Saturday. Chelsea, who rarely threatened, have 50.
Tottenham have picked up only two points from their last five league games and have seen big points leads over Arsenal and Chelsea vanish.
Manager Harry Redknapp was upbeat even though his side hit the bar through Gareth Bale and wasted several excellent chances.
"It was a big point for us and it keeps them five points behind us," Redknapp told Sky Sports.
"We had some great chances and their keeper made some great saves. I thought we edged it today. We haven`t been playing badly and the confidence has never gone."
His counterpart Roberto Di Matteo argued that Chelsea could have been awarded a couple of penalties, but admitted his side had lacked a real goal threat.
"There was a clear penalty shout for us when (Benoit Assou) Ekotto pulled down Ramires at the far post," he said.
"But we didn`t create enough chances or clear chances to get the goal we needed. It won`t be easy (to get into top four) but we`ll try until the end."
In unseasonably warm sunshine, a soporific first half was played almost at walking pace with Spurs content to pass the ball at leisure and Chelsea struggling to inject any tempo despite needing the victory more than the visitors.
Rafael van der Vaart should have put Spurs ahead in stoppage time when Luka Modric`s cross found him unmarked but he shot straight at goalkeeper Petr Cech and when the ball broke to him again his follow-up attempt was blocked on the line by Ashley Cole.
Things livened up after the break with Chelsea showing more urgency. Daniel Sturridge flashed a shot across goal and then Juan Mata`s free kick curled against the post with Tottenham keeper Brad Friedel a spectator.
The expected Chelsea surge never materialised though and Tottenham dominated the final quarter.
Emmanuel Adebayor spurned a great chance for Spurs when he sprang Chelsea`s offside trap to race on to a Modric lob but after rounding Cech his weak shot was cleared off the line by the back-tracking Gary Cahill.
Bale then thumped a header against the crossbar from a corner and Cech made a fine low save to keep out Bale`s free kick in stoppage time.
In Saturday`s evening kickoff, Manchester City can return to the top of the table if they avoid defeat at Stoke City. Manchester United, leaders by one point, play at home to Fulham on Monday.