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West Ham United
November 28, 2012
• Stamford Bridge, London
Referee: A. Taylor
• Attendance: 41707
Well that brings an end to our live play-by-play coverage of the Chelsea-Fulham game at Stamford Bridge for this evening, thank you for joining us and stick around on the site for all the best of the post-match reaction.
It's hardly the start that either Roman Abramovich or Rafa Benitez wanted, and a drab 0-0 draw at home to west London rivals Fulham only increases the pressure on the Spanish boss already.
In all honesty, it was a pretty poor game and while Fulham's defensive performance was excellent, they offered very little going forwards and a draw seems a fair result on the balance of play.
Referee Anthony Taylor brings an end to the game and it's greeted with a chorus of boos by the home support, with Rafa Benitez the main target after successive home draws under his tenure so far.
Chelsea go close right at the death after Mata's corner is nodded out to Azpilicueta on the edge of the box, but his drive whistles just past the post. It finishes 0-0 at Stamford Bridge.
Fulham are keeping Chelsea penned in their own half and Riise wins a corner with just a minute left to go after seeing his shot deflected behind.
Riether is free down the right and plays a cute ball into the box but Petric's touch is heavy and he loses control of it straight away and Chelsea get it clear. So close there.
Fulham try to break forward but Petric loses out to Marin and they feed Mata in the middle driving at goal, but his ball into the box just fails to find Torres.
Cole and Hazard combine well down the left and the latter wins a corner after Senderos knocks it behind, but Mata's ball in is headed away by Riise.
Substitute Marin send in a low cross from the left but Hughes hacks clear and Fulham are getting deeper and deeper now as they look to hold on.
The tempo has really cranked up a notch in the last 10 minutes or so and both sides sense they can grab a winner here.
Mata accelerates into the box and just as he pulls the trigger, Sidwell gets in a superb block.
Frei goes down in the box under pressure from Ramires but referee Anthony Taylor waves play on and on second viewing, that looks an excellent decision.
Torres once again goes close with an acrobatic volley at the back post but, with Schwarzer beaten, Hughes cleares it off the line.
Fulham working very hard off the ball now as they hunt down Oscar on the left flank with three players before winning the ball and coming away with it. They sense a chance to win this here.
That's very close for Torres after he brings down a diagonal ball into the box from Romeu between two defenders, but just loses out to Senderos and Schwarzer rushes out to collect.
Great save from Cech after Fulham waste the resulting free kick, but they keep hold of the ball and Berbatov feeds in Riise who brings out a smart stop from the goalkeeper down low to his right from outside the box.
Yellow Card David Luiz
What is Luiz doing there? Fulham break at pace and the central defender bring down Karagounis off the ball in a good position 30 yards from goal in a central position. That was mad.
Chelsea are applying a degree of pressure at the moment but the end product is awful and they need to get Mata on the ball more in the final third.
Yellow Card Oriol Romeu
From the resulting corner, Ivanovic goes down in a heap under pressure from Senderos but the referee waves play on.
Bit more drive about Chelsea after Karagounis gives the ball away near the edge of his own box and the hosts have a corner.
Yellow Card Branislav Ivanovic
After Ramires fouls Sidwell following a loose pass in the middle of the pitch, Baird tries his luck with a long-range free kick but yet again, it's straight at Cech.
Azpilicueta wins a corner from Rodallega down the right and Mata's inswinging delivery sees Luiz nod just wide of the far post. Nearly an instant impact from the diminutive Spaniard there.
Juan Mata is now on the pitch, thank the lord. Chris Baird comes on for Fulham too.
Karagounis dithers on the ball on the edge of the Chelsea box but then decides to try his luck and his shot lacks the power to truly trouble Cech.
Cole has a pop from range after Hazard and Romeu elect to play it sideways but it's charged down by Sidwell.
Hazard flings in another corner but it can't beat the first man at the front post and Berbatov heads it away.
As seems to be the pattern this evening, though, the delivery is poor and Fulham hack it clear.
Hazard wins a free kick wide on the left after a foul from Diarra.
Oscar is the latest player to lose the ball in a good position with Sidwell coming away with it. The fans sound as if they're growing a bit edgy now.
A long punt forward up to Torres sees him head the ball to his left to Ramires, but his effort from just outside the box is weak and rolls straight into Schwarzer's arms.
What a chance for Fulham to take the lead there as they break away and Karagounis finds Riise breaking into the box on the left with a diagonal ball, but his touch is heavy and Cech and Luiz crowd him out.
Chelsea play the corner short yet again but Cole's cross into the box is awful and cleared.
Torres does well when penned in down the left and wins a corner off Riether.
Diarra dinks a beautiful ball over Ivanovic's head into Berbatov, but as he turns the linesman raises his flag for offside.
Hazard drifts in off the left flank and drives towards goal, playing the ball in to Oscar's feet in the box, but Diarra gets across and pulls out a fantastic tackle to stop him pulling the trigger.
That's the most sensible pass I've ever seen as Diarra simply knocks the ball out of play under no pressure with Oscar and Azpilicueta in close attention as he's heading towards his own goal. Very strange.
Fulham pressing high up the pitch and they seem to have the bit between their teeth after a lacklustre first half showing.
Romeu sees a strike deflected high from the edge of the box and it looks as if it's going out for a corner but Schwarzer manages to prevent it.
No changes for either team at the break and Chelsea have us back underway at Stamford Bridge for the second half.
Much more urgency from Chelsea now as Hazard motors past Senderos before trying to find Oscar in the box but Schwarzer comes and collects.
Wonder how long it will be before we see Juan Mata step off the bench and out onto the pitch to try and have an influence on this game, he's quite the subtitution to have up your sleeve.
Martin Jol, though will be absolutely delighted to have reduced the hosts to little more than speculative efforts from distance for the most part in that first half.
That was a quite frankly abysmal showing from Chelsea that half and they seem to be lacking in confidence at the moment, shorn of any sort of movement, width and zip to their game.
The referee Anthony Taylor brings an end to an extremely poor half of football with Chelsea and Fulham going in at the break 0-0.
Decent move by Chelsea involving Torres, Hazard and Oscar down the right sees Hughes get a good header away under pressure from Bertrand at the far post.
Bertrand is stopped right in his tracks by a bundling Senderos challenge, and Diarra comes away with the ball.
Luiz works it out to Azpilicueta, but his deep cross to Ivanovic is poor and the move breaks down.
Romeu draws a foul from Sidwell in the middle of the park. Luiz looks as if he's lining this one up, a full 35 yards out from goal.
Berbatov dances around just outside his own box spinning away from Ramires on the ball before losing out to Cole, but his cross into the box is deflected high and into the goalkeeper's arms.
Pressure increasing on Fulham a tad here as Oscar just glances Hazard's flat corner from the right that just fails to find Luiz rushing in at the back post.
That is a sensational tackle from Diarra on Torres in the box there after Hazard wriggles free of Riise down the right and sends in a low cross, but Fulham survive.
Rodallega finds a yard of space from outside the box and his powerful drive is right down the throat of Cech, but he clutches onto it.
Hazard launches a long ball forward from inside his own half trying to find Torres but it just flies over his head and into Schwarzer's arms.
Hazard's effort is weak and Fulham break away, but Riise's ball into the box from the left is blocked by Luiz and Chelsea get the numbers back they need.
Spot of head tennis in and around the Fulham box and Torres has won a free kick right on the edge of the box on the left. Very soft foul, that.
Chelsea are well on top in terms of possession but there's very little in the way of penetration, they're just not moving the ball quickly enough at the moment.
Oscar finding more and more room between the full-back and midfield now as he tries to play in Torres with a neat pass behind Hughes, but Schwarzer rushes out and collects.
Best chance of the game so far and it comes from Torres. Oscar plays Azpilicueta in down the right and his low cross finds the Spanish striker, but his effort is scuffed and Schwarzer saves easily.
Riether knocks a hopeful punt up top and Berbatov expertly turns it out wide to Duff first time but after a spell of possession, Rodallega loses control of the ball and lets it go out of touch. One for the pursists at the moment, this.
Torres is caught well offside during another laboured Chelsea attack. This has been dire stuff so far.
Luiz steps up with a free kick, 30 yards from goal, but his effort is well over the bar. That's been about the highlight so far, which says it all really.
Fulham aren't offering much going forward at the moment and Berbatov is cutting an increasingly isolated figure up top.
Ramires tries to work Schwarzer in the Fulham goal from the edge of the box but he fires his effort straight at him from outside the box.
Cole flings in a cross from the left which Senderos sends straight back at him with a thumping header.
It's been a flat atmosphere at Stamford Bridge so far as the home fans finally find their voice and belt out ‘one Di Matteo’.
Romeu's pass out wide to his left to Cole just fails to find its target and rolls out for a throw in, which is then met by a mixture of jeers and groans from the home fans.
Decent move from Chelsea down the left, with Cole and Bertrand combining, but the latter's low cross is blocked and Fulham scramble it away.
David Luiz has got the freedom of west London to bring the ball out of defence at the moment and the visitors are sitting very deep, almost inviting Chelsea onto them.
They try to play the resulting corner short and work it across to Bertrand, but a heavy touch sees him lose out to Karagounis and then clumsily pull him down for a free kick to Fulham.
Oscar tries to find Torres with a ball in behind the back four but Senderos knocks it behind for a corner.
Decent zip about Chelsea's play whenever they're on the ball as they try to work in Hazard down the right, but Fulham look organised and difficult to break down at the moment.
Fulham keeping the ball very well at the moment with Karagounis at the hub of it in the middle of the park. Patient stuff from the visitors and they look as if they've settled into the game nicely.
Oscar feeds the ball inside of him to Ramires, but the Brazilian blazes his effort miles over the bar.
Chelsea pressing very high up the pitch here through Torres and it looks as if Rafa Benitez is having an effect on their style already.
Oscar find himself on the receiving end of a crunching tackle from Diarra in the middle of the park before Rodallega breaks away at pace but the attack breaks down due to a lack of support.
Sidwell, another former Chelsea player like Duff, heads the resulting free kick from Hazard well clear.
Chelsea work the ball across the pitch well before Duff fouls Hazard out wide on the right in a promising position.,
Fulham get us underway during this west London derby.
The Chelsea fans appear to have found their sanity and grown up a bit, and while there were a few boos for the Spanish manager, not nearly as many as suffered at the weekend before the Manchester City game. Let's get this show on the road, the teams are out on the pitch and ready to go.
So will Rafa Benitez fall foul of the booy boys once again? Let's find out.
This game ended 1-1 last season with Juan Mata and Clint Dempsey grabbing the goals.
Coincidentally, Fulham are also without a win in their last five league games, having drawn three and lost their last two, against Sunderland at home and Stoke away.
Time for a few factoids for you then - Chelsea are without a league win in five games since beating Tottenham at White Hart Lane in October.
Meanwhile, Fulham boss Martin Jol makes three changes to the team that lost 1-0 to Stoke at the weekend, with Mahamadou Diarra, Hugo Rodallega and Damien Duff coming in for Chris Baird, Mladen Petric and Ashkan Dejagah.
The result of Mata and Mikel dropping out of the side sees Oriol Romeu handed a rare start in the league while Ryan Bertrand comes into the side in a more advanced role, with Ashley Cole starting at left-back.
The main news to take from Rafa Benitez's side is that it looks as if John Obi Mikel and Juan Mata have both been benched, or rested, however you may view it, for their pivotal remaining Champions League game against Nordsjaelland next week, with a game against West Ham in between.
Fulham: Schwarzer; Riether, Senderos, Hughes, Riise; Duff, Sidwell, Diarra, Karagounis, Rodallega; Berbatov. Subs: Etheridge, Kelly, Baird, Kasami, Petric, Frei, Dejagah.
Time to bring you the teams, and here is Chelsea's: Cech; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Luiz, Cole; Ramires, Romeu; Hazard, Oscar, Bertrand; Torres. Subs: Turnbull, Ferreira, Cahill, Mikel, Marin, Mata, Moses.
Good evening folks, my name is James McManus and I will be running you through tonight's game between Chelsea and Fulham at Stamford Bridge, with new interim boss Rafa Benitez still chasing his first win in charge after his, shall we say, less than popular appointment.
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