PFC CSKA Moskva retained first place in UEFA Champions League Group G after holding Arsenal FC to a goalless draw, but the London side had only themselves to blame after squandering a series of excellent chances.
Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas and Tomáš Rosický were the main culprits in a first half that Arsenal thoroughly dominated. Ultimately, though, they had Jens Lehmann to thank for a point after he saved superbly from Vágner Love shortly after the break. The stalemate leaves CSKA a point clear of Arsenal with everything to play for on Matchdays 5 and 6.
Henry showed his determination to make up for defeat in Moscow a fortnight ago with a fierce tackle on Yuri Zhirkov that earned an early booking. The Arsenal captain was in the thick of the action and moments later crossed for Robin van Persie who nodded wide. Arsenal were playing with pace and verve, intent on stamping their mark on the game, and twice more in the opening 15 minutes Van Persie missed the target when well placed. After a flowing move on 17 minutes, Rosický sent Gilberto scampering clear down the right. The Brazilian crossed low for Henry but the Frenchman stabbed wide at the near post.
It was all Arsenal, although as in Saturday's draw against Everton FC, they were struggling to break down a packed defence. CSKA worked their first opportunity midway through the half when Daniel Carvalho rifled a free-kick straight at Lehmann. Arsenal were soon back on the attack and Fabregas should have put them ahead on 27 minutes, firing into the side-netting after rounding Igor Akinfeev. CSKA had not conceded in five previous UEFA Champions League outings this term, and rode their luck here. It summed up the first period when Henry shot wide with only the keeper to beat, before Rosický missed with the goal at his mercy just one metre out. Arsenal fans were laughing in disbelief.
The pattern was resumed at the start of the second half with William Gallas pressing forward regularly to add power to Arsenal's attacking finesse. It was the Gunners, though, who were fortunate not to fall behind on 57 minutes. Vágner Love, preferred in attack to Ivica Olić, got the better of Gallas on the edge of the Arsenal area and Lehmann had to come to the rescue, saving the Brazilian's shot then grasping the rebound with an outstretched hand as the Brazilian followed up.
Arsenal had survived a scare, and their nervousness grew with every CSKA counterattack. That said, the hosts were still making chances and Van Persie was centimetres away from connecting with Henry's low delivery on 65 minutes. The introduction of Theo Walcott with 20 minutes remaining restored hope but when Van Persie headed wide with the goal gaping, and Akinfeev repelled an effort from Gilberto, it confirmed the evening belonged to CSKA.