Chelsea stalemate against Fulham
Chelsea 0-0 Fulham
Chelsea's poor form continues after a disappointing 0-0 west London derby draw with Fulham at Stamford Bridge, extending the Blues' winless run to six games in the Premier League.
Rafael Benitez made two changes to the side that earned a point against reigning champions Manchester City on Sunday, replacing John Obi Mikel and Juan Mata with Oriol Romeu and Ryan Bertrand for Wednesday's clash with the Cottagers.
Fernando Torres maintained his place in attack, but it was another underwhelming performance from the Spanish striker, who looks a shadow of his former self.
Chelsea struggled to create any real chances in the first-half, despite actively looking to play the ball to Torres at the earliest opportunity.
Ramires fired the hosts' clearest opportunity high over the bar from the edge of the box, while Dimitar Berbatov did the same with Fulham's only real threat on goal, after a neat cross from John Arne Riise.
16 minutes in and the Chelsea supporters paid tribute once again to departed manager Roberto Di Matteo - singing the Italian's name for the entire minute of the number he previously wore during his playing days at the club.
On the half hour mark Torres received the ball from his compatriot Cesar Azpilicueta on the penalty spot, and after a neat turn he could only fire straight into the hands of Mark Schwarzer.
After the interval, both teams started brightly with Berbatov once again holding up play well before laying off for Giorgos Karagounis, who released a low-drilled shot straight at Petr Cech.
The hour mark prompted a change from both sides, with Mata replacing Bertrand, and Chris Baird coming on for Mahamadou Diarra, whose industrious display in the middle of the park was rewarded with a well-earned rest.
Soon after the substitutions, Chelsea created their clearest chance of the game, when Mata's corner found the head of Branislav Ivanovic, but his glancing header drifted wide of the far post.
Kerim Frei came on for Karagounis, and his nimble footwork on the left-wing afforded an opportunity to break. His forward run ended when Ramires intercepted the midfielder, who went down in the box after the Brazilian's soft challenge, though his half-hearted penalty appeals were waved away by referee Anthony Taylor.
Aaron Hughes cleared a Torres effort off the goal-line after he was found at the back post by Mata, but that was about as good as it got for the hosts in front of their 41,707 home crowd at Stamford Bridge.
Mladen Petric replaced Hugo Rodallega in the closing stages, while Marko Marin was given his first taste of Premier League football when he came on for Eden Hazard, but it had little effect on a dire game at Stamford Bridge.
Benitez maintains his unbeaten record in eight games against Martin Jol, but Chelsea's third consecutive draw with Fulham will provide little reason for optimism for Blues fans, even though they move up a place above West Brom to third in the table on goal difference.