Arsenal were forced to settle for a 0-0 draw at home against London rivals Chelsea as striker Robin van Persie failed to find the back of the net on several occasions. Chelsea's win over Barcelona in midweek had evidently taken its toll on the players involved in that match as Blues boss Roberto Di Matteo made eight changes to his starting line-up.

The Gunners' talismanic striker had his first chance of the game in the 13th minute when Theo Walcott found him near the six yard box with a lofted free-kick. However, the Arsenal captain's volley hit the base of the post. The Gunners hit the woodwork again in the 42nd minute when the unmarked Laurent Koscielny headed van Persie's free kick against the crossbar.

Chelsea's best chance of the first half fell in the 44th minute when captain John Terry headed a corner wide from just six yards.

However, before the break van Persie had another go at goal - Alex Song's over-the-top ball found the Dutchman unmarked but he shot straight at Petr Cech. The goalkeeper continued to frustrate the Arsenal skipper after the restart as well, denying him two good chances. Daniel Sturridge ended up with an opportunity to win the match for Chelsea five minutes from time but Koscielny dived in to deny the forward a clear goalscoring chance.

In the end both teams seemed content to settle for a point. Arsenal remain third in the table, while Chelsea are sixth.

Meanwhile, Newcastle United have leapfrogged Tottenham Hotspur into fourth with a 3-0 home win over Stoke City, thanks to a brace from Yohan Cabaye and another goal from Papiss Cisse.

Cisse almost opened the scoring after 13 minutes after he leaped above the Stoke defence to meet a Hatem Ben Arfa cross but the Senegalese striker hit the woodwork. However, Cabaye was following up to nod over the line. The Frenchman then turned provider for Cisse in the 18th minute and the 26 year old netted his 11th league goal in 10 matches for the club.

The Magpies added one more just before the hour mark, with Cabaye curling one in for his second of the game to seal the match and wrap up all three points.

Newcastle are now at fourth with 62 points from 34 games. Just above them are Arsenal with 65 points from 35 matches.

Tottenham's miserable run of form, meanwhile, continues unabated. Spurs could have reclaimed fourth from the rampant Magpies had they beaten QPR on Saturday night. However, Harry Redknapp's men have, incredibly, won only once since that magnificent 5-0 mauling of Newcastle - that is a run of nine games with only one win, not anywhere near the kind of form they need to be displaying at this stage of the season.

Against QPR, for whom Moroccan forward Adel Taraabt not only scored the winning goal in the 1-0 win but also got himself sent off, Spurs, despite enjoying 60 percent of the ball (a figure inflated by the fact QPR played the final ten-odd minutes with one man less, were poor.

The defeat means Spurs are now three points behind Newcastle in the race for the final Champions League position, with only four games to go. More importantly, their slide down the table means Chelsea are now only a point behind and Redknapp, before he jets off to take charge (probably) of England for the 2012 European Championships, could well leave Tottenham without any hope of European football for next season.

Arsenal's Rosicky challenges Chelsea's Malouda during the English Premier League soccer match at the Emirates Stadium in LondonReuters
Arsenal's Gibbs challenges Chelsea's Sturridge during the English Premier League soccer match at the Emirates Stadium in LondonReuters
Arsenal's van PersieReuters
Chelsea's Terry reacts after their English Premier League soccer match against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in LondonReuters
Newcastle United's Cisse shoots to score against Stoke City during their English Premier League soccer match in NewcastleReuters
Newcastle United's Cisse celebrates scoring against Stoke City during their English Premier League soccer match in NewcastleReuters
Newcastle United's Cabaye shoots to score against Stoke City during their English Premier League soccer match in NewcastleReuters
Newcastle United's Ba, Cisse and Cabaye celebrate a goal against Stoke City during their English Premier League soccer match in NewcastleReuters