Everton 0-0 Chelsea (Sky Sports)
Bosnich Injured In Stalemate
Stephen Turner reporting
Mark Bosnich's stop-start Chelsea career took another step backwards as he departed injured during the second half of his side's 0-0 stalemate at Everton.
The Australian has only just established himself in the Blues side after his shock move from Manchester United last season, but he faces more time on the sidelines after pulling up lame as he took a goal-kick on 73 minutes.
His replacement on the day, Carlo Cudicini, had to adapt quickly as he foiled a combination of Duncan Ferguson and Steve Watson in stoppage time after an unenthralling encounter at Goodison Park.
Everton keeper Steve Simonsen also found himself called into late action, and he was not found wanting as he produced the most agile of stops to tip Gianfranco Zola's free-kick against the bar.
The frantic finale was out of keeping with the preceding humdrum fare, and neither side possessed the sharpness in attack to consistently trouble their opponents.
With skipper Kevin Campbell still out for Everton, Watson was pushed up front alonside Tomasz Radzinski as Walter Smith chanced a novel solution to his striking problems, and the former Villa man, filling the forward role for the first time since his Newcastle days, headed narrowly past the angle after rising well to meet Alessandro Pistone's 9th-minute cross.
Watson's awkward bustle complemented the fleet feet of Radzinski well in the first half, but the Canadian was having a frustrating time of it, twice being denied a free-kick when apparently impeded by the formidable frame of John Terry.
But the former Anderlecht star continued to make his runs with untamed gusto, and when he scampered on to a subtle Scot Gemmill through-ball just before the half-hour mark, only the persistent presence on his shoulder of the impressive William Gallas prevented him from striking a cleaner effort on goal.
Gemmill was again involved a few minutes later as Watson's stubbornness enabled the Scot to find a clear path to goal, but Bosnich was alert to his angled drive and produced an excellent parry.
Chelsea were an impotent attacking force before the break, and again seemed to be hampered by boss Claudio Ranieri's tactical over-ambition.
The recognised battling skills and astute passing ability of Emmanuel Petit were entirely wasted on the left side of a midfield diamond, while nothing that any of his companions in the formation - Frank Lampard, Slavisa Jokanovic and Sam Dalla Bona - produced managed to rise above the mundane.
When Ranieri introduced Boudewijn Zenden and Mario Stanic to play as orthodox wide men at the start of the second half, Chelsea immediately looked more secure in the face of Thomas Gravesen's midfield dominance, and consistently threatened to break the deadlock in the few minutes after the restart.
Dutchman Zenden arrowed in a series of menacing centres, and when Simonsen failed to hold his 20-yard bobbler, Zola miscontrolled the rebound before hitting Alan Stubbs on the goal-line from a tight angle.
Everton's most likely route to goal thereafter was from a set-piece, and Bosnich did well to repel David Weir's header in his last significant action of the afternoon.
But neither side ultimately offered enough to deserve the three points, and Chelsea's increasingly mediocre showings away from Stamford Bridge may be starting to worry a manager whose avowed aim is a Champions League place.
Man of the Match: William Gallas (Chelsea) - the French defender was just about faultless in the face of the differnet problems posed by Watson, Radzinski and Ferguson.
Everton: Simonsen, Pistone, Weir,
Stubbs, Unsworth, Alexandersson (Ferguson 74), Gravesen, Gemmill,
Naysmith, Radzinski, Watson.
Opta Index (Match Stats)