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Cech penalty saves spares Blues blushes


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Fulham 0-0 Chelsea

Barclay's Premier League - Monday 14 February 2011 - Craven Cottage


Petr Cech saved Clint Dempsey's 93rd-minute penalty to ensure Chelsea claimed a point against Fulham on a frustrating evening for the champions.

After Tottenham's 2-1 win away at Sunderland, the Blues arrived at Craven Cottage knowing only a three-point haul against their West London rivals on Valentine's Night would take them back up to fourth in the table - but instead of Chelsea supporters kick-starting a romance with new striker Fernando Torres, it was their admiration for the world's best goalkeeper that was rekindled, as the Czech stopper saved a last minute Clint Dempsey penalty.

The Chelsea number one had enjoyed an excellent game - but his best efforts were not enough to inspire an otherwise insipid display that was only marginally improved after the half-time interval. Chelsea predictably enjoyed the lion's share of possession and were permanently camped inside the home side's half for much of the second period, but that did little to mask the fact that they were blatantly missing a cutting edge up front - in spite of the embarrassment of attacking riches they were able to field.

It is a result that does little for both sides; though a point for Fulham has helped consolidate their position in mid-table as they were able to edge away from the looming pit of the relegation zone. However, Chelsea are restricted to fifth place; and instead of closing the gap on third-placed Manchester City and regaining fourth position, they are now two points behind Tottenham with Champions League football next season looking all the more unlikely with every passing sub-par performance.

Credit must be handed to Fulham for an excellent rearguard display, and the Cottagers had chances to steal what could have been a famous win over their West London rivals - where the achievements of Chelsea's double-winning side have, perhaps unfairly, overshadowed Fulham's remarkable achievement of reaching last season's Europa League final.

They came within touching victory of a win that would have lifted them to ninth, and they had their chances to record a seventh win of the season. Dempsey was excellently denied by Cech prior to the 93rd-minute spot-kick - which came as a result of an innocuous-looking tackle from David Luiz - and he was then inches away from connecting with a Chris Baird cross as the game drew to its thrilling conclusion.

The match itself demonstrated there is no love lost between the two sides, even on Valentine's Evening; but Fulham will nonetheless be contented with a point their manful display warranted. Chelsea were lethargic going forward and seemed devoid of ideas but for the sole spark of Ramires, who typified the never-say-die spirit that contributed to his side's early season success - and unfortunately a quality that seems to have deserted many of his team-mates.

Optimists may view this as a point gained as opposed to two dropped - and judging by the form guide, this may be a fair judgement. Fulham have been excellent of late, and should they secure mid-table occupancy once more this term they will look back on this run of form as the cornerstone of their bid to beat the drop. Regardless, Chelsea certainly were not short on chances, and whilst goalmouth action was somewhat lacking, the Blues may well feel disappointed that the quality of their football has again thwarted them.

With the Premier League title now out of reach - with Manchester United sitting a comfortable twelve points ahead of the defending champions - qualifying for European football next season should surely be Chelsea's primary objective domestically in their remaining dozen league fixtures, but as to which competition they will enter remains to be seen.

Opportunities for the visiting team to win the game were not absolutely limited to long-range efforts, though Ramires, Frank Lampard and Michael Essien were continuously peppering Mark Schwarzer's goal with ambitious attempts. Torres himself looked sprightly and came close on numerous occasions; but a combination of dogged defending and poor control betrayed the £50 million Spaniard - though he is showing signs of creating an understanding with his new colleagues.

Another of Chelsea's deadline day signings, David Luiz, was absolutely superb - with his calm defensive style and ability and desire to carry the ball reminiscent of the recently-departed Ricardo Carvalho. Luiz himself was almost the unlikely source of goals as he first ballooned a drilled effort way wide before he headed narrowly over with twenty minutes remaining - but the greatest cheer was reserved for a brilliant piece of improvisation as he acrobatically overhead volleyed the ball back into the area, only to see substitute Salomon Kalou head over.

Set-piece opportunities were key to the attacking successes of both sides - whilst Fulham found Chelsea's tightly-marshalled defence hard to better from dead-ball scenarios, Chelsea were creating their clearest opportunities from such positions, and Essien nearly supplied the game-winning touch as he had done in November when he flashed a header across the face of goal.

It was a tale of close, but not close enough for the Blues, who again drop ground after last week being in a position to cut the deficit to first position to seven points. Two attacking blanks later and the title dream is dead, and hopes of Champions League football look likely to rest on the success of top five clashes with Tottenham and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge later this term - though the Blues have not beaten either of the two sides since a 3-0 home demolition of Spurs in September 2009.

Fulham perhaps enjoyed the better of the first half, though Chelsea exhibited a degree of control throughout; but on the balance of play, the number of goal-bound efforts was matched by either side in spite of all the territorial domination that the visiting team were enjoying.

Torres went off after an improved personal showing, but on a day where slow build-up and misplaced paces were undermining the Blues' attempts to muster enough forward impetus to seriously mount a sustained challenge on Schwarzer's goal, he found himself living off of scraps. The best opportunities that feel Chelsea's way were largely a result of Fulham mistakes or were passed up by a lack of commitment to attack.

A theme that has been consistent with the side for much of the season, Chelsea were dominating play but finding themselves limited to long-range shots. Even when the dropped Didier Drogba entered the fray, Fulham's stubborn rearguard refused to waver. The Ivorian first threaded the ball across the six yard box - only to see his endeavours undone by a lack of blue shirts - and then lashed high and wide from an acute angle, it was apparent this would simply not be Chelsea's night.

And it was so nearly an evening to savour for Fulham fans as the excellent David Luiz brought down Dempsey in the area with a dubious challenge. Granted there was contact with the player, but compared to a blatant Brede Hangeland push on Florent Malouda in the opposite penalty box it seemed little more than an aggressive and determined attempt to wrestle the ball back. Either way, a spot-kick was awarded.

Cech highlighted why, on current form, he is the world's best goalkeeper with a splendid parry, and whilst Chelsea threatened to counter attack deep into added on time, it was Fulham who came closest in the closing exchanges as Dempsey - still thinking about his scorned opportunity from 12 yards - was unable to meet a first-time cross from Chris Baird.

On a night where Chelsea wanted three points, they were lucky to come away with a single one. A season-long tussle with Tottenham and the blue half of Manchester seems to be on the menu.


Fulham (4-5-1): Schwarzer; Baird, Hughes, Hangeland, Salcido; Duff, Murphy © (Gera 82), Sidwell, Dembele (Gudjohnsen 82), Dempsey; Johnson (Davies 73)

Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry ©, Cole; Essien, Ramires, Lampard; Anelka (Kalou 65), Torres (Drogba 70), Malouda

The TalkChelsea.net man of the match was Chelsea's number 7, Ramires.

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I really don't understand why people are making this out to seem like the worst game we've played this season. I'd say it's one of the most insightful, so many positives we can pick up from it, with the level of improvement we've shown in the 2nd half I'm not that worried about 4th. An attainable target imo.

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I really don't understand why people are making this out to seem like the worst game we've played this season. I'd say it's one of the most insightful, so many positives we can pick up from it, with the level of improvement we've shown in the 2nd half I'm not that worried about 4th. An attainable target imo.

I'm not.

It is merely another in a long list of lacklustre attacking displays, undone by a lack of commitment and incision up front.

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Good report BL

I really don't understand why people are making this out to seem like the worst game we've played this season. I'd say it's one of the most insightful, so many positives we can pick up from it, with the level of improvement we've shown in the 2nd half I'm not that worried about 4th. An attainable target imo.

Thats what I like a glass half full man :smiliecap1:

Lets not forget lady luck playing her shitty cards. Nailed on penalties we should have had not just last night but against the murderers as well......Dont know why Mike Dean didnt see last nights..

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I wasn't happy about Chelsea yesterday. The first half was dramatic. They've played idea less with no motivation or inspiration. I saw 11 individual players instead of 11 team players. I hated the way they were throwing the ball forwards. I only give credit to David Luiz. he was excellent yesterday. He was the only player on the Chelsea side who was trying to bring football in the game. He is really skilled. Look at his passes he gave, defending, he is strong. Sometimes he wanted to much when he was defending en lost the ball, but this is a great player with skill and definitely a one of the best transfers.

They way Chelsea was playing yesterday damaged their game. Anelka was like a right midfielder instead of a right winger. All they did was trying to get the ball forwards and hoping that someone would score. Fernando Torres didn't get any good ball maybe one and he was playing on a island and 3 defenders around him. There was no one in the field who was making how Am I going to say in English more possibilities. No one was around him, if Drogba was around him he could gave him some space and he the same for Drogba. Speaking about Torres btw, the chance of the last minute before half time, the normal Torres would have score an opportunity like that. It was a good ball he didn't even tuch the ball!! Normally he should have score.

The 2nc half was way better. The first minute I saw a Chelsea who wanted. There was more pressure and tempo in the game it was good to see. The first minutes of the 2nd half I saw Torres showing more of himself but later I didn't really see him. Chelsea was more ''hungry'' but we still miss some quality. First of all I think we against the tactics of Ancelotti. Chelsea wasn't really dangerous when it came to the chances. I saw alot of distance shooting sometimes it was desperate. Any way like I said we miss some quality's. We good dribbling players on the ball like Robben or one who is making defenders crazy like Robinho. There is no creativity on the midfield and here the trouble started. Ancelotti should have brought McEachran in. They guy is quick with good passes over the floor. Ramires didn't do any thing special and I think Lampard is getting older and it effects his game. Carlo Ancelotti is to scare to let McEachran play. I think he is ready 2 play matches for Chelsea.

Then we've got the change Fernando Torres for Drogba. I didn't really get this. You couldn't blame Torres not playing good while the midfielders didn't get him. Btw it wasn't a smart decision. He should have done Drogba for Anelka. Anelka was terrible and with Drogba Torres had a man next to him which would probably be more difficult for the central defenders to defend. And those 2 could created space for in each other. And in the end I think I forgot who was falling to simply when they had the penalty. It wasn't a penalty and Gudjohnson should definitely had a RED card. The referee's in the Premier League only gets worst er and worst er...

I really don't understand why people are making this out to seem like the worst game we've played this season. I'd say it's one of the most insightful, so many positives we can pick up from it, with the level of improvement we've shown in the 2nd half I'm not that worried about 4th. An attainable target imo.

You're right this wasn't our worst game this season but is was still not good enough. Fulham was nowhere, no pressure in there defence and Chelsea couldn't created good opportunities. It was always the ball long forward or shooting from distance. Btw Carlo Ancelotti made really bad decisions and his tactic was shit. He really should care of his job now.

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Carlo should go NOW....his insistance on playing Anelka is going to cost us dear this year....He kept coming inside and the right flank was totally exposed. Drogba and Torres can play up front together but only with balance on the wings. Malouda has to play on the left and Kalou,Essien or even Ramires has to occupy the right.

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