[VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS] Fulham 0-0 Chelsea: Blues left frustrated in Valentine’s stand off
Chelsea spurned the chance to move into the top four last night as they were held to a bore draw against neighbours Fulham at Craven Cottage.
The visitors missed a catalogue of scoring opportunities in a Valentines Day derby encounter that lacked an abundance of passion. New record signing Fernando Torres was as wasteful as any in front of goal and Chelsea were nearly made to pay in the dying minutes of the game when fellow new boy David Luiz fouled Clint Dempsey in his own box. Fortunately the Brazilian’s blushes were spared as Petr Cech saved to deny the American stealing all three points for the Cottagers.
After last week’s disappointing home submission to the old foe Liverpool, Chelsea were desperate to bounce back with what fans and staff alike were hoping would be a bumpy if not straightforward win over their West London rivals. A win would have seen the Blues go level on points with 4th placed Tottenham, but overtake them in the Champions League spots on goal difference. Fans were also eager to see their new goalscoring hero actually grab a goal for his new club, after a dismal showing against his former employee’s last week. However the spotlight will not quit the Spaniard until he notches his first goal in Chelsea colours.
And the pressure on both Torres and coach Carlo Ancelotti will only increase after the Italian chose to leave crowd favourite Didier Drogba on the bench. The gamble might have paid off had Torres and co taken one of many goal scoring chances. The visitors enjoyed the vast majority of possession, and all an early Damien Duff cross proved was that the Blues would not have to worry too much about conceding after David Luiz intercepted well. The defensive pairing of Luiz and captain John Terry gave the visitors a platform on which to go on and dominate the game’s proceedings.
The Chelsea captain even led the initial charge towards Mark Schwarzer’s goal, heading Branislav Ivanovich’s cross on target but with little power. Ex- Chelsea winger Duff then took it upon himself to break the stern away resistance, shooting from 25-yard’s with a quarter of the game gone. Cech seemed to be caught unawares by the plucky effort, punching the fizzing shot away to safety.
The champions then set about breaking through an equally strong Fulham defence, knowing the longer they left it to open the scoring, the more difficult it would become. Ivanovich, who enjoyed various attacking foray’s into the opposition half almost caught out a back-pedalling Schwarzer with a cross-come shot, and Frank Lampard wasted perhaps the best chance of the game after an Ivanovich cross found him in space. The England man steered his effort over the bar when he really should have found the target.
The minutes were ticking down to half time, but just before Mike Dean could blow to signal the half-time pie dash Torres had not one but two glorious chances to open his scoring account. The first a weak finish that failed to trouble the ‘keeper after initially doing well; the second was let down by a poor attempted first touch which allowed the opportunity to pass.
When play resumed Torres again took up his nightmare start to life at Chelsea by missing another gilt-edged chance to put his side ahead, this time heading wide from a Ramires cross. It seemed it was just going to be another one of those days in an altogether frustrating season for the Spaniard, and it felt like it would be just a matter of time before Drogba’s introduction.
But the Ivorian was to see his fellow countryman, Salomon Kalou come on ahead of him for Nicolas Anelka before the man himself stripped down. The powerful forward eventually replaced a struggling Torres after David Luiz, who was enjoying the opposite kind of night to his Spanish teammate, should have scored from a headed chance.
Michael Essien soon added his name to the list of guilty person’s after mis-timing his header and it looked as though Ancelotti was going to have another one of those nights. It threatened to get even worse when Fulham sensed that they might just snatch something from the game, after playing almost the entire match so far with 10 men behind the ball. Dempsey went close after he capitalised on a Terry mistake, and substitute Simon Davies also glanced over from a Zoltan Gera cross.
The game was coming to a disappointing close when the most dramatic incident of this otherwise lacklustre affair took centre stage. The impressive David Luiz was adjudged to have fouled Dempsey in what can only be described as a desperate challenge. Dean pointed to the spot, and the American brushed himself off before stepping up to take the penalty kick. To not take all 3 points would have been disappointing for Chelsea fans; but to come away with nothing after monopolysing the game would have been the romantic equivalent of Fulham not only failing to turn up for this Valentine’s date, but to snap incriminating evidence and post it all over Chelsea’s “Wall”.
Justice though, appeared to be done, as Cech guessed the right way and saved his team from back to back losses. It could have been a lot worse for Chelsea had it not been for their lanky ‘keeper, but it certainly could have been a lot better. The performance was however was almost faultless, and had it not been for some cheap finishing on the part of a rather expensive import, Chelsea fans would be heading home from this derby with a lot more to cheer about.
How realistic are Chelsea’s chances of domestic glory now after this slip up?…What would you do if you were Ancelotti?…Can Drogba and Torres play together?…please leave your comments below…
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