Chelsea Make Point To Go Top (Sky Sports)
Birmingham City 0 Chelsea 0
Chelsea did enough to move to the top of the Premiership table ahead of their weekend encounter with Arsenal following a dour goalless with Birmingham City.
Claudio Ranieri's aristocrats suffered an early blow when William Gallas pulled out of the starting line-up after aggravating an ankle injury in the warm-up, but they were soon into their stride with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink failing to apply the finishing touch that Wayne Bridge's surging run demanded.
Christophe Dugarry posed a threat for Blues, and his mazy dribble deserved more than the weak finish he delivered, but it was Aliou Cisse who managed his side's best first half attempt with a header from close range that flew wide following a Stan Lazaridis free kick.
Hernan Crespo came into his own as the half wore on as he snapped in a volley from Frank Lampard's pass that was kept out by Maik Taylor, and then showed excellent control but again shot too close to Taylor.
The closest either side came to scoring came after the break when Hasselbaink beat team-mate Crespo to another astute Lampard through ball, and saw his powerful drive deflect off the fortunate Taylor and fly just off target.
Hasselbaink headed over the bar from the resulting corner, and he was to be replaced by Eidur Gudjohnsen with Damien Duff also entering the fray as a second half substitute for the ineffective Joe Cole.
Lampard was soon forcing Taylor to tip over a stinging effort but it was by no means one-way traffic, even though Chelsea did force an incredible 18 corners.
Stephen Clemence headed wide from the industrious David Dunn's free kick, but the chances fizzled out as the match wore on with a spate of bookings disrupting the flow of the game.
In-form Kenny Cunningham epitomised Blues' spirit with a last-ditch tackle to thwart Gudjohnsen inside the area, and Birmingham can be well pleased with a point for their endeavours.
Birmingham Taylor, Tebily, Cunningham,
Upson, Clapham, Johnson, Cisse, Clemence (Hughes 78), Lazaridis, Dugarry (John
Subs Not Used: Bennett, Kenna, Morrison.
Booked: Dugarry, Cisse.
Chelsea Cudicini, Johnson, Terry, Huth,
Bridge, Makelele, Lampard, Cole (Duff 66), Geremi, Crespo, Hasselbaink (Gudjohnsen
78). Subs Not Used: Ambrosio, Stanic, Melchiot.
Booked: Terry, Huth, Johnson, Makelele.
Referee: N Barry (N Lincolnshire).