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Fulham 0-0 Chelsea: Quick Match Report

You like the title of this? I took a little respite from the match reports this weekend, but in catching up on Fulham’s draw with neighbor Chelsea, I thought I’d remark that this had 4 or 5 of the most entertaining stoppage-time minutes I’ve seen this season.

The most notable development in this match was Carlo Ancelotti’s response to the Drogba/Torres/Anelka quandary. The response was to ditch the 4-4-2 diamond formation that had drawn jeers from pundits. Ancelotti started Torres in lieu of Drogba in the 4-3-3 formation, with Malouda and Anelka serving as wingers.

Fulham played in a defensive-minded 4-4-2. Moussa Dembele and Andy Johnson played as strikers, but generally speaking the Fulham attack was stunted and lacked much cohesiveness. Players like Carlos Salcido and Danny Murphy were all-too-willing to concede possession throughout the game, and that led to Chelsea being dominant throughout.

Torres still did not look comfortable in the Blues’ lineup, but the chances were coming his way. He had at least three quality chances in the game that should have been goals. One has to think that Drogba would have finished at least one of those opportunities. Drogba did enter the game in the 71st minute, but his only real opportunity came in the form of a shot well over from 9 yards.

In the 90th minute, one would have been tempted to say that Fulham’s defensive tactic won them the draw. That would have sold short a vigorous ending, which saw the Cottagers’ counterattack come to life. Dempsey received a ball at the edge of the area and broke against Luiz towards the end line. Luiz made his one major mistake of the match, tripping Dempsey without playing the ball. Referee Mike Dean pointed to the spot. Luiz might have been the scapegoat, except that Dempsey drilled his penalty straight into Petr Cech’s diving torso. He could not direct the rebound on net. Immediately after that, it looked as though Fulham would have another chance, but Damien Duff’s cross was too far for Dempsey, and the scoreless draw was realized.

Chelsea thoroughly outplayed Fulham, but there continues to be issues within the squad. While they controlled possession and forced Fulham to clog their defensive third, most of their opportunities fell victim to either poor blend or poor form, or both. The Blues’ title hopes are now firmly in the court of needing gobs of help from the opponents of Manchester United and Arsenal, as well as a near-perfect conclusion to their own season.

I will return to “normal programming” this coming weekend for some FA Cup ties. Which would you like to see profiled?

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  1. Jake

    February 24, 2011 at 7:54 am

    With the money MU and Chelsea have it should be the most entertaining football in the world but it aint. MU and Chelsea havent been playing brilliantly themselves recently and wouldnt say it would be ” entertaining ” to watch, and considering MU ” Supposadly the best team in the world “, youd think it would be entertaining football every weekend whether it be CL, PL or domestic cups, but it aint.

  2. Jake

    February 18, 2011 at 6:06 am

    Fulham v Bolton should be entertaining are you joking. Will probably be one of the most boring matches of the season. Fulham the draw specialists against bolton who do poor away from home. 0-0 back to the reebok is my prediction. BWFC.

    • R2Dad

      February 18, 2011 at 11:36 am

      Fulham added Gudjohnsen, and Bolton is sitting 8th. OK, their total goal differential is +1, but they’re well matched. Not every match can be MU vs Chelsea.

  3. Terry

    February 15, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    After what happened to United last year when they lost to Leeds, I don’t think Fergie will put out a lot of reserves. I see this game being over within 20 minutes. United will win easily.

  4. Dave C

    February 15, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Man Utd vs Crawley would seem like the most intriguing game of the weekend, simply due to being classic David & Goliath match-up. But at the same time I imagine it might not be perfect for a relatively intelligent tactical analysis.

  5. Milhouse

    February 15, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Keith is obviously an Arsenal hater who can’t get over the fact that Arsenal are empirically a part of the two-horse championship race whilst Chelsea are already themselves resigned to fighting for the last CL spot.

    I too heard the drivel spill out of KK’s mouth about Arsenal and had to wonder if he had been watching the league at all this season.

    Yeah, Arsenal had a bump in the road against Newcastle, with a little help from Diaby and a lot of help from Phil Dowd. But come on, Chelsea have been hitting bumps in the road since October. And was the Newcastle implosion any worse that MU’s injury time implosion against Everton?

  6. R2Dad

    February 15, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    Would like to see MU v Crawley Town since everyone likes to see an underdog win (same with City v Notts County and Leyton v Arsenal). Fulham v Bolton should be entertaining.

  7. Keith

    February 15, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Clearly Arslacker is a Arsenal homer and can’t get over the fact that Arsenal has no final kill in them. They had their hands around Newcastle’s neck and let go. They have a real problem and they need to go get 1 player with a killer’s instinct and play him over Arshavin.

    Chelsea NEED a player who can create when a defense decides to drop back 9-10 players. They need a Kaka or Sneijder type to come in when a team retreats back like Fulham did. (Real Madrid have this problem too when Kaka isn’t in the starting 11). I know Chelsea is interested in Kaka but I don’t think Real will shop him. If Chelsea hadn’t shopped Robben 4 years ago he’d make an ideal “creator” type. I think Chelsea should seriously look at making a run at Nasri and if they can’t get him (which they won’t) then they should look at Gourcuff (who’s price is DROPPING) or Sao Paulo’s Lucas (who’s price is flying after the South American U-20 final).

    The big question I have is what’s different since September? This team didn’t need a creator type when all 10 players were touching the ball and moving. The team looks slow and stale and rigid right now. This team is better when the LB plays in front of the LW who is inside of the CAM. But with Drogba and Anelka not crossing in and out, and Lampard not running into the box and Cole sitting back there is no attack. I think Chelsea needs a LB sub and a CAM sub for Lampard. Maybe it’s Ramires or maybe Essien moves up but Lampard and Cole need to find their legs!

    • Earl Reed

      February 15, 2011 at 1:04 pm

      The coincidental happening was that Michael Essien was injured at the end of October. Immediately after that, they lost their 2nd game of the year, to Liverpool. They have yet to come back into top form.

      • R2Dad

        February 15, 2011 at 2:08 pm

        …plus Drogba had malaria.

        • Milhouse

          February 15, 2011 at 2:46 pm

          … Plus Chelsea are old and had no depth.

  8. arslacker

    February 15, 2011 at 11:22 am

    who said that this would be a two horse race in the podcast. UTD and chelsea.. I am laughing my arse off.

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