Chelsea and Tottenham were handed a boost in their race for Champions League football next season, after Arsenal and Everton played out a goalless draw at the Emirates on Tuesday evening.
The result leaves Arsene Wenger's men third in the table, with 60 points; Chelsea are fourth with 58 and Spurs fifth and trailing the Blues by goal difference. The Toffees, meanwhile, are two points behind in sixth.
The standings appear favourable for the Gunners but the fact both Chelsea and Tottenham have games in hand means the Emirates club could drop back to fifth by the end of the midweek games. The only consolation Arsenal fans can give themselves, at this point, is Spurs must play Manchester City on Saturday and Chelsea face a tricky trip to Craven Cottage.
At the Emirates
Tuesday evening's game started with David Moyes' team the brighter. In fact, the blue half of Merseyside should have been a goal up early on, when Steven Pienaar found himself in space in Arsenal's penalty box. However, the South African blasted wide after finding his angles cut down by the onrushing Wojciech Szczesny.
The visitors had a clear game plan - to harry and hassle the Arsenal midfield. The tough tackling approach clearly irked Wenger on the touchline but he could do nothing about the tactic. Everton may have carried the style a bit too far after Ross Barkley's challenge on Jack Wilshere.
Darron Gibson was yellow carded for a foul on Walcott and was fortunate to remain on the pitch after another blatant foul on the England international only a few minutes later. The former Southampton youngster was targeted by Everton players and Wenger was left fuming after Pienaar also clattered into the forward.
By now, though, the Gunners were beginning to find a rhythm. Spain international Santi Cazorla linked with Aaron Ramsey, who crossed for Olivier Giroud but the France striker failed to hit an open goal, after eluding an onrushing Tim Howard.
The second half ran in similar fashion, with Everton holding possession but unable to carve any real chances. Barkley's long-range effort was the only notable half-chance.
Wenger then changed things around with two substitutions just after the hour mark: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced Wilshere and Lukas Podolski came on for Walcott. Chamberlain had an almost immediate impact, running clear of Sylvain Distin and crossing for Giroud. Unfortunately, Seamus Coleman intercepted the delivery.
Giroud had a couple more chances towards the end of the game but, eventually, poor finishing from Arsenal and a lack of real attacking threat from Everton meant the game petered out to a draw.