West Ham United 0-0 Chelsea

FA Carling Premiership

In the first of this weekends London derbies, West Ham and Chelsea played out a 0-0 draw at Upton Park, a result which does neither side any favours for their respective European ambitions.

A Paolo di Canio-inspired West Ham held firm against their west London rivals despite being reduced to ten men when Igor Stimac was sent off in the 68th minute after receiving his second yellow card following a needless foul. Having been booked for dissent in the first half, Stimac was given his marching orders after a sliding challenge on Dennis Wise in the middle of the pitch.

Such is the glut of teams just below the Premiership elite, West Ham could have repeated Tottenhams feat of last week and jumped from tenth to sixth if results had gone their way today.

For Chelsea, they had a spot in the top three to aim for, and the incentive to extend their 12 match Premiership unbeaten run. Showing only two changes from their midweek victory over Feyenoord, Chelsea began the stronger, dictating the pace and flow of the game.

Dennis Wise and Gianfranco Zola probed and prodded early on, but were frustrated by the tenacious Hammers midfield duo of Steve Lomas and Marc Vivien Foe.

Indeed, it was West Ham who created the best early chance of the game, Paolo di Canio charging down Albert Ferrer and setting up a spectacular counter-attack. The Italian held off two challenges but his shot from an angle failed to trouble keeper Ed de Goey.

Dan Petrescu should have then given the visitors the lead on 26 minutes when he latched onto a Zola cross but West Ham stopper Craig Forrest did well to stop the Romanians snap-shot with his knees.

Di Canio, emerging as the biggest thorn in Chelseas cultured side, than almost shocked the Blues with another piece of magic. His slide-rule pass put Moncur in on goal, who jabbed a shot past de Goey only for Marcel Desailly to hook the ball off the line.

The second-half was a similar affair to the first, as both sides wasted good chances. Paulo Wanchope fired spectacularly over the bar and was replaced a few minutes later as di Canio and Trevor Sinclair began to create chances. However West Hams attacking ambitions were then severely curtailed by Stimacs dismissal.

Chelsea could not capitalise though, Flo in particular guilty of missing with a header just after the red card. Given Liverpools victory over Derby, this was a missed opportunity for Gianluca Viallis side to keep pace with the top three.

West Ham meanwhile move up to ninth place. They must find some consistency however if they are to push for a UEFA Cup place in the remaining two months of the season.

West Ham: Forrest, Stimac, Ferdinand, Minto, Lomas, Foe, Lampard, Moncur (Cole 85), Sinclair, Wanchope (Kitson 60), Di Canio, Kitson (Ruddock 77)
Subs Not Used: Feuer, Keller.
Sent Off: Stimac (71).
Booked: Moncur, Stimac, Foe.

Chelsea: De Goey, Ferrer, Leboeuf, Desailly, Babayaro, Petrescu (Poyet 65), Deschamps, Wise, Morris (Di Matteo 82), Zola, Flo (Sutton 82).
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Thome
Booked: Flo, Morris.
Att: 26,041
Ref: S Dunn (Bristol).