Chelsea 1-0 Fulham - Wasted chances nearly cost Chelsea three points.

The sight of John Terry at the end bellowing at his team mates towards the end to keep working hard more or less summed up this game last ...

Chelsea v Fulham, Premier League 10/11/2010 Ashley Cole celebrates with Michael Essien of Chelsea after he scores his goal 1-0  Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

The sight of John Terry at the end bellowing at his team mates towards the end to keep working hard more or less summed up this game last night. I had said that Chelsea had to win this one against our local rivals Fulham and with a single goal in the first half from Michael Essien, Chelsea did exactly that...eventually.

Chelsea dominated the game and of that Fulham will have no arguments at all. Chelsea dominated the possession of the ball, created many more chances in the game but wasted them. Fulham to their credit kept going and never gave up and towards the end made Chelsea work for our three points by forcing Petr Cech into two great saves to keep it 1-0. Essien then got himself sent off at the death for a "tackle" on Clint Dempsey.

Sounds long winded doesn't it, as the game went on that was exactly how I was feeling after watching Chelsea squander chances to finish the game off. Chelsea started much better than we did at Liverpool (wouldn't take much I know) but that was encouraging.

The line up was as I predicted in my preview with Bosingwa coming in at right back, Ivanovic moving across next to JT to replace Alex and Drogba in up top for Anelka.

We dominated possession early doors and our passing was better but didn't really create anything of note early. A couple of half chances and balls into the box but Fulham were never troubled.

In fact it was Fulham who had the first shot on target in the game as their young left back tried his luck from 25 yards which was easy for Cech to deal with. Mikel then for once found his shooting boots and had a go from about the same distance, on target but straight into the hands of Schwarzer.

Returning Didier Drogba then tested Schwarzer just before the half hour with a free kick out wide. It looked a better option to cross the ball but Drogba proved me wrong as he forced Schwarzer into a save. From the resulting free kick conceded after Fulham couldn't clear their lines came Chelsea's goal.

As the cross came over Drogba slipped on the grass and looked to have tweaked his groin, he remained lying on the floor inside the Fulham box. It was this moment that Mark Hughes stated was the reason for the poor marking by Fulham but I am not having it.

Everybody played on and the ball half cleared from the initial cross came out wide left and was picked up by Kalou. He looked up and floated a cross into the box right into the middle and Essien rose, unmarked from ten yards to head the ball home past Schwarzer. 1-0 Chelsea.

Chelsea v Fulham, Premier League 10/11/2010 Clint Dempsey of Fulham tangles with Michael Essien (L) and Salomon Kalou of Chelsea  Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

As soon as the goal went in Fulham were on the back foot. Malouda wriggled free of Dempsey to have a crack at goal from 25 yards easily saved down to his right by Schwarzer and then it became the Kalou show.

Now this guy frustrates the life out of me because we know he has the ability and the skill and on his day can be outstanding and win us games, but nights like last night goes to show he can do everything right outside the box, once he is inside the box it's hit or miss. Last night was miss, miss and miss!.

Chelsea v Fulham, Premier League 10/11/2010 Salomon Kalou of Chelsea  Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

First of all towards the end of the first half, Malouda who was a growing presence in the game broke down the left and played a perfect cross into the box for Kalou to rush his effort and scuffed his attempt wide of the post.

Then Kalou was onto the pass of the game from Yury Zhirkov, splitting two defenders and he was in on goal. Kalou probably travelled 30 yards with the ball at his feet into the box right hand side level with the corner of the six yard box, Schwarzer came out to narrow the angle, and from around 6 yards Kalou fired wide.

Finally, Another Malouda cross this time drilled hard and low from the left hand side across the six yard box for the far post and Kalou missed getting his foot to the ball and tapping the ball into the net under pressure from the defender.

Chelsea v Fulham, Premier League 10/11/2010  Danny Murphy of Fulham reacts as Salomon Kalou of Chelsea is awarded a free kick Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

Let's be honest here, if it was Anelka there it would have been at least two of the three chances converted and Chelsea to go in at half time 3-0 up but it wasn't. Despite all our chances we went in with just a single goal lead.

Second half and no changes for either side and Chelsea once more looked to play their passes and Fulham to try and keep hold of the ball when they had possession but still couldn't force their way anywhere near our box.

Kalou then had his final chance of the night and this time he managed to get his effort on target but Schwarzer in goal stood firm and blocked his shot. Kalou had picked the ball up 25 yards from goal out wide right. He came inside towards the middle of the box and faced with three defenders in front of him, knocked the ball to the right of them, skipped past them and was in on goal. Great skill but Schwarzer was there to deny him this time.

Shortly after Malouda squared a ball into Drogba 16 yards out and his shot was blocked by Hughes. Schwarzer then made a fantastic point blank save as the ball came into the box, half cleared and Malouda spun and volleyed the ball hard at goal from 6 yards, Schwarzer close by blocked his effort, the ball eventually came to Drogba who fired at goal and the shot was blocked again, ball again half cleared out wide right and Ivanovic drilled a cross in hard and low, Essien appeared from the back post running onto the ball and it looked as though he would tap it in, but again Fulham defence stood firm, put him under pressure and Essien more or less deflected the ball wide as Schwarzer dived across his goal to try and block it once more.

Fulham were defending for their lives and with a bit of luck and Schwarzer in goal were keeping Chelsea at bay. At just 1-0 at this point you begin to wonder.

Fulham then played themselves back into the game. First of all Dempsey 25 yards out fired in a fantastic swerving shot that forced Cech at full stretch to tip the ball over the bar. A keeper shorter than Cech would have conceded.

Shortly after, as Fulham ten minutes from time tested Cech again through Zoltan Gera. A ball into the box and under pressure from Andy Johnson was half cleared by Terry, Gera onto it like a flash and struck a fantastic volley hard towards our goal. Fortunately for Chelsea and for Cech, it was right at him and he managed to make a save and keep it at 1-0.

Chelsea v Fulham, Premier League 10/11/2010 Clint Dempsey of Fulham attempts an overhead kick as John Terry of Chelsea looks on  Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

Fulham were pushing Chelsea back towards their own goal looking for the single goal to grab a point from Chelsea and Terry and our defence managed to stand firm. Credit Fulham for keeping going and asking questions till the final whistle. At times we looked under more pressure than we needed to be and Terry's outburst to his team mates summed it all up for me.

Chelsea v Fulham, Premier League 10/11/2010 Referee, Martin Atkinson sends off Michael Essien of Chelsea   Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

Essien's tackle on Dempsey was then punished as he received a straight red card. Now more on the Essien tackle to follow in my next post but it took the edge of our result and three important points as he is now banned for our next three games.

The referee blow his whistle again, this time the final whistle and Chelsea took a much needed three points in a game that proved to be a struggle late on. Like I say that's down to Fulham's determination to play to the final whistle and to keep going.

Carlo said after the game that he was pleased with our tempo and our start to the game and I have to agree. If we just could have put our chances away it would have been so much easier. I guess that's Chelsea at the moment isn't it. We like to make a meal out of games compared to the start of the season when everything was flying in from all angles.

For now, three points, another clean sheet a record for Cech and with United and City drawing with each other we have extended our lead to four points.

Bloody Kalou!

Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Bosingwa (Ferreira 88), Ivanovic, Terry (c) Cole; Essien, Mikel, Zhirkov; Kalou (Sturridge 85), Drogba, Malouda (Ramires 77).
Unused subs Turnbull, Bruma, McEachran, Kakuta.
Scorer Essien 30
Sent-off Essien 90+3
Booked Essien 49. Cole 75.

Fulham (4-4-2):Schwarzer; Kelly, Hughes, Hangeland, Briggs (Gera 78); Davies, Murphy (c), Etuhu (A Johnson 61), Duff; Dempsey, Dembele.
Unused subs: Stockdale, Paintsil, Greening, Dikgacoi, E Johnson.

Referee Martin Atkinson
Crowd 41,593.


Follow me on Twitter @chelseadaft

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