Blues Stalemate For Chelsea  (Sky Sports)

Chelsea 0 Birmingham City 0

Desailly challenges for the ballChelsea could not break down a solid Birmingham defence as they slipped further behind leaders Arsenal with a lacklustre 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge.

Claudio Ranieri's men hit the woodwork through Joe Cole and had a William Gallas shot sensationally cleared off the line by Oliver Tebily, but have nobody to blame but themselves for a disappointing performance.

Birmingham set their stall out to defend deep and attack on the counter, and Steve Bruce will be delighted at a hard-fought point.

A lacklustre first half had seen Chelsea strike the woodwork but produce little that suggested the influential Damien Duff would remain warming the bench after the break.

Joe Cole had provided the best moment of the half, shifting his weight superbly before unleashing a shot that beat everybody but the far post, with Maik Taylor a spectator.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink will feel he should have done better with a good opportunity that fell to him on 19.

The Dutch marksman was picked out by a pinpoint Wayne Bridge cross, but tamely headed wide when he should have hit the target.

Duff's arrival in the second half did not spark the hosts, but they found goalkeeper Taylor in dominant form, and their strikers failing to take chances.

After a suspiciously offside Gallas had lofted his effort towards the empty net after a rare Taylor error and allowed Tebily to race back and clear, the defender was adamant he was fouled by in the penalty area by the man who had denied him a goal.

Frank Lampard drew a fabulous save from Taylor, cutting inside but finding the former Fulham man equal to his powerful drive towards the bottom left corner.

Hasselbaink had warmed Taylor's hands on several occasions, most notably on 84 minutes when the goalkeeper saved well to deny the striker.

Eidur Gudjohnsen then should have done far better when he cantered through with four minutes left on the clock, but with the stadium rising in anticipation, the Icelandic star blazed wide to leave the assembled home fans with their heads in their hands.

It was not to be for Chelsea who dominated but again failed to come up with the goods, and it will be only a minor consolation that Wolves' win against Manchester United meant they were not the only challenger to slip up this weekend.


Chelsea  Cudicini, Bridge, Desailly, Gallas, Johnson (Melchiot 81), Cole (Mutu 60), Gronkjaer (Duff 45), Lampard, Makelele, Gudjohnson, Hasselbaink
Subs Not Used  Sullivan, Huth
Booked  Cole, Johnson

Birmingham City  Taylor Cunningham, Kenna, Purse, Tebily, Clemence, Hughes (Kirovski 81), Johnson, Savage, John (Carter) 89, Morrison (Lazaridis 66)
Subs Not Used  Bennett, Barrowman
Booked  Savage, Tebily

Attendance  41,073

Referee  J. Winter

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