Arsenal and Everton battled out a pulsating 0-0 draw at the Emirates Stadium for a result that does not especially help either side's hopes of sealing a top-four finish in the Barclays Premier League.
The Gunners had won four league games in succession to move above Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea in the race for UEFA Champions League qualification. However, despite plenty of endeavour, Arsene Wenger's men were unable to breakdown a determined Everton side.
Arsenal's best chances fell to Olivier Giroud but the France striker failed to test goalkeeper Tim Howard and the hosts had to be content with a point which sees them move two clear of their London rivals below them but having played more matches.
Both teams sported black armbands in remembrance of the Hillsborough disaster and also the tragedy in Boston, with a period of silence impeccably observed before kick-off.
It was a lively start by Everton. After six minutes, Steven Pienaar was played into the right side of the Arsenal penalty area by Seamus Coleman but he lifted his shot over both goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and the crossbar.
A few hefty challenges then went in from both sides as the midfield battle heated up. Wilshere was left in a heap by a strong sliding tackle from Ross Barkley, the 19-year-old drafted into the Everton starting line-up by David Moyes.
Arsenal pressed again after 25 minutes, the ball worked out to full-back Kieran Gibbs on the overlap down the left, but his angled drive flew into the Clock End.
After 41 minutes, Giroud might have put Arsenal ahead when Aaron Ramsey got away down the right and swept the ball back through the penalty area, where the French striker arrived at pace ahead of goalkeeper Howard - but stabbed the ball wide, while Santi Cazorla's angled shot was blocked as the Gunners finished the half strongly.
The Spaniard tested Howard again following the restart with a rasping half-volley as Arsenal looked to break down the stubborn visitors. Everton, though, refused to lie down and were awarded a free-kick just outside the penalty arc in a central position when former Toffees midfielder Mikel Arteta tripped Pienaar - but Leighton Baines fired it into the wall.
From the break, Walcott sprinted away down the right and eventually crossed for Giroud, but with his back to goal, the striker could not turn and the chance was gone.
Barkley had one of Everton's best chances but he was inches away from breaking the deadlock with a curling effort after side-stepping a couple of challenges on the edge of the Arsenal penalty area.
Substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain darted away down the right on the overlap, but his cross into the area was booted clear by Coleman with Giroud ready to tap in. Giroud then showed good footwork to fashion a shooting chance from a tight angle, but blazed over with his weaker right foot.
Arsenal pressed during the closing stages, but unlike here against Norwich on Saturday, there was to be no late surge and the points were shared.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: "We showed fantastic focus for 90 minutes. It was disappointing we couldn't take our chances.
"Overall, we kept a clean sheet, which was the target. We had the chances to score. Maybe we looked too much for power and not enough to place the ball."
On his side's Champions League hopes: "We're in a strong position. We are on a strong run. If we keep this fighting spirit I'm sure we'll get there."
Everton manager David Moyes: "It was a really good game. It was end to end and we played some really good stuff. I'm not too despondent with a point, even though we wanted to win. We got about the game, went after it. We were trying to make a real game of it.
"We got a little bit fortunate. A couple of bits of defending were fantastic to ensure we didn't concede a goal. We probably need to win all the remaining games to have a chance [of making the top four]."
|20 Apr 2013||v Fulham (A)|
|28 Apr 2013||v Man Utd (H)|
|04 May 2013||v QPR (A)|
|14 May 2013||v Wigan (H)|
|19 May 2013||v Newcastle (A)|
|08 Dec 2013||v Arsenal (H)|