Chelsea and Arsenal remain deadlocked after tense Carabao Cup semi-final first leg

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Chelsea and Arsenal remain deadlocked in their Carabao Cup semi-final after a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge.

There was nothing to separate the two sides in west London to leave the tie on a knife-edge going into the second leg in two weeks’ time.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger decided to bench Alexis Sanchez for the London derby as speculation continues to swirl over his future at the club.

His demotion to the dugout will only add fuel to the fire as Manchester City are understood to have already agreed personal terms with the Chile international.

City have reportedly put a £20million offer on the table and are looking to strike a deal during the January transfer window after failing with a bid for the player in the summer.

Mystery also surrounds the future of Mesut Ozil and the Gunners had to make do without the German for the first leg of this semi-final as he struggles with a knee injury.

Wenger’s side lacked the flair and imagination the pair so often bring to the party as Antonio Conte opted to field a stronger starting XI under the floodlights.

Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard offered plenty of threat in attack and the little Belgian was a creative sphere of influence for the Blues throughout.

Morata will want to forget the meeting these two teams had at the Emirates earlier this month as he spurned a host of golden opportunities in the Premier League fixture.

However, it was to be another frustrating night for the as he squandered an early chance on the turn in the first half.

Arsenal looked to Alexandre Lacazette, their expensive summer arrival, to bare his teeth and stamp his authority on the tie. The Frenchman was largely anonymous.

As the strikers found opening hard to come by, the best chances fell to Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen as he missed two with his head from close range.

The game began to lack genuine quality in the second period as both sides were clearly afraid to commit bodies forward with a second leg in north London still to follow.

Sanchez was thrown on, greeted by a chorus of boos from the home crowd, for what could potentially be his final appearance in the red and white shirt.

He showed glimpses of why Pep Guardiola is so desperate to sign him for a team that is already sweeping aside all before them on their way to the Premier League title.

But the most intriguing aspect of the match was the debate around the video assistant referee (VAR) as Conte called for a review of a penalty appeal in the closing stages.

Cesc Fabregas was sent tumbling by Danny Welbeck but referee Martin Atkinson, in consultation with the fourth official, chose not to take a look at the footage.

Would it have made a difference? The replays proved inconclusive as the tackle looked fair from one angle and clumsy from another.

It all means the tie remains delicately poised as the two teams head into the second leg at the Emirates on January 24 to decide who marches on to Wembley.

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