Boxing day draw for Blues and Whites
Written By: Robert Halter
Chelsea followed up their 1-1 draw at Spurs with another derby on Boxing day with local neighbours Fulham, as the Blues remained unbeaten against the Cottagers on home turf throughout the Barclays Premier League’s existence, with the Whites last win at Stamford Bridge dating back to October 1979. The game marked the return of Fernando Torres to Chelsea’s starting line up, in place of Didier Drogba who was moved to the bench. Clint Dempsey tried from distance on eight minutes but Petr Cech dealt with the shot by pushing the ball behind for a corner. The Whites pressed again in the fourteenth minute, when Stephen Kelly’s right wing cross was headed over the top by Orlando Sa. But the Blues responded a minute later, when the ball was floated in by Juan Mata and as Torres brought the ball down on his chest, he was unable to apply the finish by hitting his shot directly into David Stockdale’s body. Torres turned creator on sixteen minutes with a touch to Daniel Sturridge, whose shot from outside the box went wide of the target. In the twenty fifth minute, Mousa Dembele steered an effort wide from a long distance out, as Cech was pleased to see the ball go past the right post, after his dive did not cover the shot. The Blues responded on the half hour mark but Oriol Romeu blazed his strike over the upright. The breakthrough occurred on forty six minutes, as Ashley Cole’s cross from the left side was touched down by Torres and with a perfectly measured strike, Mata put the ball past Stockdale into the right area of the net. But the Cottagers fought back on fifty five minutes when Philippe Senderos directed a header into the path of Bryan Ruiz, whose low cross was put away by Dempsey, as he found a way through David Luiz and Cech to get the vital touch and bring Fulham back to all square. On sixty four minutes, the Blues pressed again as Stockdale was forced to tip over a fierce strike by Sturridge and from Mata’s resulting short corner, Sturridge’s cross was headed on by John Terry and Stockdale produced a point blank save to keep out Florent Malouda’s close range effort. After replacing Sturridge, the first chance for Drogba fell to him on seventy five minutes as he received a long ball over from Luiz but an unmarked Drogba could only place his shot directly at Stockdale. Three minutes later, Raul Meireles went agonisingly close for the Blues, as on the turn, he flashed a shot past the right post. Stockdale performed another acrobatic tip over to keep out Meireles’s flying header from a Malouda cross on eighty six minutes and then a minute later, Stockdale’s instinctive save stopped Drogba’s header from a Meireles corner. There was more work to do for the Fulham keeper in the eighty eighth minute, when Stockdale had to turn behind Malouda’s long range strike. Although, Fulham had an opportunity at the end of normal time, as Dempsey set up Pajtim Kasami but he could only put the ball directly at Cech. In stoppage time, Stockdale produced more heroics in deflecting over Drogba’s well struck free kick, after Dembele’s foul on Torres. However, despite the barrage of Blues chances there was no change to the score as both West London sides had to settle for a 1-1 draw, the third in a row for Chelsea.