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Chelsea 0-0 Hull


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Chelsea F.C. 0 - 0 Hull City

February 7 2009, Premier League, Stamford Bridge, West London

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Chelsea's faltering form continued as a dogged Hull rearguard earned the Tigers a valiant point at Stamford Bridge.


The Blues put in yet another sub-par performance, demonstrating their frailties under Luiz Felipe Scolari are still very much apparent. After squandering second place to Liverpool following a disappointing performance at Anfield, Chelsea now find themselves fourth in the Premier League after Aston Villa beat Blackburn 2-0 at Ewood Park.

Not even the presence of winger Ricardo Quaresma could spark life into the hosts, who lacked the killer final ball on more than one occasion in the match. With Ricardo Carvalho still missing through injury and Petr Cech an absentee also after sustaining injury in Sunday's defeat on Merseyside, the Blues were lacking authority at the back and their poor all-round performance was underlined by lackadaisical performances from Alex and Mikel.

In a game that featured plenty of incident as well as opportunities for both teams, Chelsea can ultimately be thankful that they ended the day with their clean sheet intact, after former Wigan midfielder Kevin Kilbane flicked a looping header towards goal, and with Hilario beaten, only the post could deny the Irishman.

The Blues' wastefulness in front of goal was perhaps signalled early on when John Terry lashed over from two yards when it was most likely easier to hit the target. Quaresma was hacked down on the Chelsea left, and Lampard's wicked delivery forced goalkeeper Matt Duke into an excellent save from a glancing touch from Terry. However, the England captain could only lash his effort over with the goal gaping.

Hull showed they would not be so easily trounced as they were back in November, when Lampard, Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda all found themselves on the scoresheet as the Blues bounced back from defeat to Liverpool, as Geovanni hammered a volley across the face of goal that was no more than half a yard wide away from embarrassing Hilario.

Quaresma might have got his name on the scoresheet when Kalou played him through, but his effort was saved splendidly by Duke. Quaresma cut inside his marker with a piece of trademark trickery, but his goalbound effort was palmed away by the Hull goalkeeper at full stretch. Chelsea were getting closer.

Lampard was next to try his luck, but his effort on goal was beaten away by Duke after the ball took an awkward bounce in front of the goalkeeper. Geovanni put a free kick over Hilario's bar after a cynical foul by the off-form John Mikel Obi had gifted the Tigers a chance to go ahead, before Ballack - on his 100th appearance for Chelsea - bent a free kick inches wide of the post as it nestled in the side netting. Kilbane was then presented with the best chance for the visitors as he headed against the post.

It had been an entertaining, albeit frustrating opening half, but Chelsea had grown in stature in the first half and looked likely to grab a goal, but their second half performance did little to offer hope to the Stamford Bridge crowd, who were growing more and more anxious as the seconds ticked away.

Kalou scuffed the ball inches wide after being teed up by Anelka inside the box, but the Ivorian's effort would have been saved by Duke had it been on target. Juliano Belletti then came on for Mikel, who was walking a tightrope after being booked in the first half, and Quaresma went off to a standing ovation to be replaced by Drogba. It had been a quiet debut for the new boy, but his invention had sparked a couple of chances, showing promise for the future.

Marney sent a shot skimming past the post with Hilario living a charmed life on his return to the Chelsea side, before Lee Mason took up the banner for Useless Referees United; the official failing to spot a blatant penalty after Dawson had clearly handled in the area. It was evidently not going to be Chelsea's day. Kalou had a shot saved by Duke as the clock ticked away, before Drogba's free kick - the last real opportunity of the game - sailed high and wide.

Another draw at home means Chelsea have now dropped 16 points at home, and have failed to score in two consecutive Premier League matches. Now fourth in the table, attentions must be turned to the FA Cup next weekend ahead of a clash with Watford, before the boys travel to Villa Park in a 3rd versus 4th encounter. Three efforts on target were all that could be fashioned against a team that has now not won in 8 matches. Cause for concern, Felipe, wouldn't you agree?
___________________________________________________________________

Chelsea: Hilario, Bosingwa, Terry, Alex, Ashley Cole, Mikel (Belletti), Ballack (Deco), Lampard, Quaresma (Drogba), Kalou, Anelka.

Hull: Duke, Ricketts, Turner, Zayatte, Dawson, Geovanni (France), Ashbee, Marney, Kilbane, Garcia, Fagan.

Attendance: 41,800

The TalkChelsea.net Man of the Match was...

26. John Terry


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