| Olivier Tebily (left) of Birmingham City tries to clear the ball as Chelsea’s Hernan Crespo closes in during their Premier League encounter in Birmingham on Tuesday. (AFP)
London: Chelsea edged past London rivals Arsenal to go top of the English Premier League on Tuesday despite being held 0-0 at Birmingham City.
Claudio Ranieri’s unbeaten Chelsea side had arrived at St Andrews with a game in hand and needing just a draw to lead the table on goal difference.
They achieved that in a dour encounter to move to 20 points from eight games, with a goal difference of 11 compared to Arsenal’s ten.
Manchester United are one point back, also from eight games, with Birmingham moving past Fulham into fourth on 15.
Chelsea will have gained confidence for their next match at Arsenal on Saturday in what has become a top-of-the-table clash.
Neither goalkeeper was really tested in the first half on Tuesday night although Maik Taylor was the busier as Chelsea, starting with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Hernan Crespo up front, dominated possession.
Birmingham, however, unbeaten at home this season, remained solid at the back while leaving Christophe Dugarry as a lone threat up front.
Taylor saved them in 64th minute when he tipped a Hasselbaink shot around the post following a through ball from Frank Lampard. The goalkeeper then denied the England midfielder with 11 minutes remaining by tipping his shot over the bar.
Chelsea striker Mikael Forssell, on loan at Birmingham, was not cleared to play in Tuesday’s game by the London club.