Chelsea 0-0 Fulham

Defending

In retrospect, we shouldn’t be surprised that two teams fielding three defensive midfielders each would get a bore draw on a cold night in West London. Both teams battled in a rather fruitless affair and Fulham could have snatched all three points, conjuring up the best chances in the second half.

Fulham lined up in a hybrid 4-3-3/4-5-1/4-2-3-1 with a defensive bent to counteract a potent Chelsea team, who up until recently, had been scoring with ease in the league.  A midfield trio of Diarra, Sidwell and Karagounis did the water carrying, but a lack of creative midfield spark left Berbatov stranded up top for most of the first half, as Chelsea controlled possession but could not find a way past the resolute Fulham defence.

In the second half, the game opened up slightly. A fantastic ball over the top of the Chelsea defence by the hard working Karagounis found an onrushing Riise who managed to fluff a relatively simple chance and weakly push the ball into Petr Cech’s arms.  Changes were made to both sides which saw the game open up further, but unfortunately the quality of the game did not follow the games upward trajectory.

Kerim Frei did add some pace, ingenuity and danger to the left flank that Fulham had been missing, and he made several good runs, but a lack of match sharpness was clear. His passing was poor when he got himself into good positions. Despite this, he did lay off a good pass on the edge of the area to Riise, who hit a rasping shot which tested Cech and brought a corner.

As the game came to a close, there were a few late penalty area scrambles but nothing came of them and the game finished goalless.

All in all, a good away point at a top 4 side. Fulham could have grabbed all three and despite the dullness of the match, it felt like a reassuring hug from a Fulham team reminding us that they still can defend when needed. The defensive performance was superlative and Hughes and Senderos put in a performance which will hopefully wake Brede from the slumber he has been in all season. With a resurgent Spurs side up next (damn you Moussa!) it was important for Fulham to get more points on the board and prevent a potential run of four straight defeats.

5 thoughts on “Chelsea 0-0 Fulham

  1. DaveB

    Excellent review – it did feel like a combined team “hug” last night…..yes we threw less caution to the wind than we did against Arsenal in our last London visit which happened to make it an exceptional dull game, but that happened more as a result of going 2 goals behind and a strong, solid performance with team discipline to the fore was exactly what the doctor called for.

    The back four were fantastic: Reither had a wonderful game, and defended stoutly throughout and still ventured forward as an outlet in the last quarter, and I also felt Senderos had a stormer. He read everything well, was quick in the tackle, threw himself into the blocks with vigour but committed at exactly the right moments. Hughes also had a better evening than we’ve seen recently. Part of this might come from the fact that they were playing what appears to be one of the poorest number nines in the Premier League at the moment – Torres is shocking these days. Riise completed the back four with a good defensive performance, but missed the chance to make himself a true legend with what looked like a pretty straightforward opportunity at that level. He probably woke up last night with that one buzzing through his skull.

    Finally, doesn’t Diarra raise confidence levels in the midfield? Not fully match fit, but still a safe pair of hands and you don’t feel as worried when Sidwell or Karagounis bombed on knowing that Diarra would just be there dousing the fires.

    And on to December and four home games which should hopefully see us edge back into the top half, with two less than frightening away trips. It could be a good month for us, with the hardest game first I’d have thought.

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  3. TheManOnTheBus

    A thoroughly good night out. Enjoyed it very much, especially the handful of breaks we had in the second half.

    Loved it too that we didn’t as the game went on play for the draw. Yes cautious in the first half, but bringing on Frei for the last 10 was because Jol sensed a wain was to be had. And he nearly pulled it off. (I thought he had won a penalty but no-one (MOTD or newspapers) this morning mentioned that so I guess it must have been a clean tackle.)

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  4. GW3

    I don’t mean to take away from the Fulham defensive performance, but isn’t their something slightly pathetic (in this case hilarious since it’s Chelsea) about a team spending that much money to be so poor in attack? Setting up defensive is fine for an underdog team, but for a team with the resources of Chelsea? There were times when the cameras caught shots of five Chelsea defenders in their own half against one Fulham attacker.

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