The man selling ‘Chelsea Champions 2015’ scarves outside The Emirates was a little premature but he is unlikely to be asked for refunds after they ground out a 0-0 Premier League draw at Arsenal on Sunday.
Apart from three penalty appeals, the strongest of which saw Arsenal’s goalkeeper clatter into Chelsea’s Oscar in the first half and put the Brazilian in hospital, there was precious little to raise the pulse on a dreary afternoon in north London.
But while Arsenal’s frustrated fans chanted “Boring Boring Chelsea” near the end, Blues boss Jose Mourinho will not care.
He extended his unbeaten record over Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to 13 matches as Chelsea, with five games left, protected their 10-point advantage over the north Londoners whose eight-match winning league run came to an end.
“I think boring is 10 years without the title,” Mourinho, whose side are the second-highest scorers in the Premier League this season, told reporters, referring to the last time Arsenal won the Premier League crown. “That’s very boring.”
Chelsea have 77 points from 33 games with third-placed Arsenal on 67. Last season’s champions Manchester City also have 67 but have played a game more, while Manchester United have 65.
If Chelsea beat Leicester City on Wednesday they can clinch the title against Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge next Sunday.
While Chelsea look unshakeable at the top, United are suffering some jitters as they bid to secure a top four spot and a return to the Champions League after a season absent.
Louis van Gaal’s side were picked off ruthlessly by a clinical Everton outfit, losing 3-0 at Goodison Park a week after a 1-0 defeat at Chelsea.
First-half goals from James McCarthy and John Stones put Everton in control and substitute Kevin Mirallas sealed victory late on to push Everton into the top half of the table.
Fourth-placed United are seven points above Liverpool, who are fifth, although that gap could be sliced to four if the latter win their game in hand at Hull City on Tuesday.
Mourinho suggested United’s defeat earlier on Sunday gave Arsenal the green light to attack but the home side never really loosened the shackles put on by Chelsea who controlled proceedings with captain John Terry in magnificent form.
“My team was phenomenal but John was one step ahead of every other player,” said Mourinho.
“This point is almost like three points… It was a fair result if you forget the penalties.”
Chelsea had two strong penalty claims before halftime.
The first arrived after 16 minutes when Oscar was played through by a superb pass from former Arsenal favourite Cesc Fabregas and as the Brazilian dinked the ball over David Ospina he was flattened by the stopper.
Fabregas was then booked for diving when tangling with Santi Cazorla on the edge of the area.
At the other end, Chelsea defender Gary Cahill appeared to block a goal-bound shot with his arm.
For all of Arsenal’s tidy approach work they did not unduly trouble Chelsea’s rearguard and it was the visitors, starting without a recognised striker in the absence of the injured Diego Costa and Loic Remy, who looked dangerous.
Ramires was picked out with a slide-rule pass by the hard-working Willian in the 38th minute but his first-time shot was too close to Ospina who blocked.
Experienced striker Didier Drogba, 37, came on for the dazed Oscar at the start of the second period but the pattern of play remained the same.
The Ivorian had one tame shot easily saved before Arsenal’s best chance of the game fell to Mertesacker but the German defender lashed his shot well wide after Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois’s punch-out dropped at his feet.
Wenger sent on Danny Welbeck to try and grab a winner and the forward scuffed a great chance in the dying minutes as Arsenal’s fans headed for the exits and Chelsea’s began singing “We’re Going to Win the League.”