AFC Bournemouth were denied a fourth consecutive victory as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Crystal Palace at the Vitality Stadium.
Two of the Premier League’s form teams met for the first time in the top flight, but neither could find a breakthrough in a blustery Boxing Day meeting on the south coast.
Some of the best chances fell to Bournemouth’s former Palace striker Glenn Murray, but he failed to impress as both sides felt the absence of key players who might have made the difference.
Without the likes of Connor Wickham in attack, Palace laboured in front of goal and Bournemouth became the first team to keep a clean sheet at home against Alan Pardew’s men since Leicester City two months earlier.
The draw took Bournemouth to 20 Premier League points before the half-way point in the season, and Eddie Howe must feel confident his men can avoid a relegation battle this season.
Palace, meanwhile, sit fifth, two points shy of the Champions League qualification berths.
Bournemouth forward Josh King missed the game due to a hamstring injury, so the home side started with Murray as a lone frontman, while Pardew left influential midfielder Yohan Cabaye on the bench due to an ankle injury.
Palace had the better of the early chances, and a deflected, wind-affected cross from Fraizer Campbell looped narrowly over the crossbar, before Damien Delaney hit a shot that needed a goal line clearance from Simon Francis to keep it out.
Bournemouth found their flow and pieced together a neat passing move that ended with a Harry Arter shot drawing a good save from Wayne Hennessey down to the goalkeeper’s left.
The game continued to swing from end to end, and Campbell fired just over the bar from the edge of the box, before Junior Stanislas’ cross gave Matt Ritchie a golden chance but the Scot headed wide.
Frustration began to show on both sides as two in-form teams struggled to find a breakthrough, and Arter was booked for a dangerous tackle on Wilfried Zaha before Jordon Mutch headed just over for Palace shortly before half-time.
Bournemouth manager Howe replaced Arter with Eunan O’Kane, and the substitute sent a shot fizzing towards the top of the net but Hennessey made a good save.
Dan Gosling’s pace caused Palace problems and his mazy dribble made space for Murray to shoot, but the former Palace striker failed to trouble Hennessey.
Gosling could have tested the goalkeeper moments later when he broke into the box, but instead he hit the deck under a challenge from Pape Souare, only to have his penalty appeal waved away by the referee.
Palace were clinging on in the closing stages and a chance to decide the contest fell to Tokelo Rantie, but a brave block by Scott Dann denied the substitute and ensured the points were shared.
Key Opta stats:
– AFC Bournemouth are now unbeaten in six Premier League matches (W3 D3).
– Eddie Howe’s side kept their third clean sheet of the season and only their second at home.
– Crystal Palace are unbeaten in five Premier League games, their best run since April 2014.
– Palace have won 36 away points in 2015 (W11 D3 L4); only Arsenal have won more on the road this calendar year in the Premier League.
– Bournemouth have lost only one of their last nine Boxing Day matches (W5 D3 L1), a run that has seen them play in all four tiers of English football.
– The Cherries ended a run of 29 league games without a goalless draw, since their game against Blackburn Rovers in February.
– This was also the first goalless draw that Crystal Palace have been involved in on the road since New Years Day 2015 – the last game before Alan Pardew took over.
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