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Chelsea 0-0 Fulham Premiership Matchday 14 1213 The Sun

last updated Thursday 29th November 2012, 11:52 AM


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Andrew Dillon at SunSport


Chelsea (0) 0 Fulham (0) 0


HOW long before Chelsea 'regret' giving Rafa Benitez a job? The current buzzword at Stamford Bridge sums it all up rather nicely after such a soulless performance.

Two shots on target from the team which just a few weeks ago modelled itself on Brazil.

A second successive goalless draw.

Another night and another opportunity wasted for Fernando Torres to come out of mothballs and become the force he was for Benitez at Liverpool.

It certainly did not take Chelsea fans long to 'regret' handing over their hard-earned on a cold night to head home chilled to the bones by what they saw and what they fear for the future at their favourite club.

Games like this will not help the punters warm to Benitez, the new interim manager.

Hang on a mo, aren't all Chelsea managers interim these days? If this is what is on the menu from now until the end of the season, the European champions seem poised to go into hibernation with all the pace and passion of a tortoise descending into a winter-long slumber.

Holding the Premier League champions Manchester City to a 0-0 last Sunday is acceptable for a club in transition, even one of Chelsea's standing.

But failing to see off Fulham, a team which normally turns up to away games with three points on the team bus ready to hand over, is dereliction of duty.

Apparently, Benitez has been told by owner Roman Abramovich that Chelsea do not have to play like Barcelona.

Just as well then, because this was nothing like Barcelona - or Chelsea for that matter.

A week has passed since the sacking of Robert Di Matteo but already Stamford Bridge is a vastly different place - and the fans do not like it.

As we laboured towards the relief of the final whistle there was one last defiant but muted cry of 'We want our Chelsea back'.

Abramovich would have heard it from his posh box in the East Stand but he rarely listens to anyone but himself.

The euphoria of making history as London's first European champions last season is long gone.

The trademark Chelsea swagger has gone.

There were not even any boos aimed at the widely disliked Benitez.

Instead, resigned groans greeted confirmation over the PA before kick-off that he had dropped swashbuckling winger Juan Mata - Chelsea's joint top scorer and the most exciting player by far at the club this season.

In the dazzling Spaniard's place was Ryan Bertrand as bold Benitez opted for two left-backs on the same flank.

Consequently, it was half an hour before anyone managed a shot on target as Mark Schwarzer easily denied Torres.

At half time, one-time Chelsea darling and flamboyant winger Charlie Cooke was paraded on the pitch.

The wise-crackers could not resist a cry of 'Bring Him On' in a telling statement on what passes for expensive entertainment at modern-day Chelsea.

Even at 70, Cooke would have coped easily with the pace.

Chelsea were slightly more adventurous in the second half but only had a Ramires effort to show for it, whereas John Arne Riise should have snatched a win for Fulham but for a panicky finish.

These two West London neighbours have vastly different budgets and vastly different approaches to the game at present.

The contrast could not be greater between Torres and his opposite number Dimitar Berbatov last night.

Both play No 9 as the main man up front.

Torres did have one decent chance but the body language speaks volumes about them both at the moment.

Berba directs and leads by example.

He never defends but has a habit of hitting a world-class ball just at the moment he starts to look a luxury player.

And whether he scores or not, he is a pleasure to watch and you enjoy the ride with him.

In contrast, Torres looks grumpy and plays like it.

There is not much fun at Chelsea at the moment - just 'regrets'.

SUN STAR MAN - STEVE SIDWELL

CHELSEA: Cech 6, Azpilicueta 7, Ivanovic 7, Luiz 6, Cole 6, Romeu 6, Ramires 5, Hazard 5, Oscar 5, Bertrand 5, Torres 5.
Subs: Mata (Bertrand 62) 6, Marin (Hazard 81) 5. Not used: Turnbull, Mikel, Moses, Ferreira, Cahill.

Booked: Ivanovic, Luiz, Romeu.

FULHAM: Schwarzer 6, Riether 7, Senderos 7, Hughes 7, Riise 7, Duff 6, Diarra 7, Sidwell 8, Karagounis 6, Rodallega 6, Berbatov 7.
Subs: Baird (Diarra 63) 6, Frei (Karagounis 73) 6, Petric (Rodellaga 82) 5. Not used: Etheridge, Kelly, Kasami, Dejagah.





















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