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Chelsea defeat Fulham 2-0

Not the best start to my birthday. A good first half, but the squad just couldn't keep it up over a full 90 minutes.

Julian Finney

Fulham started the game much more positive than I would have expected, Damian Duff especially. He spent the first ten minutes going crazy down the right flank and creating some dangerous opportunities. Parker and Sidwell also started strong really keeping Chelsea from attacking down the middle. All of Chelsea's dangerous attacks were coming from the Fulham's left flank (we're have we heard that before?).

In the 13th minute, Fulham had a great opportunity as Kasami played Bent forward with a gorgeously weighted through ball that left Bent 1v1 with Cech. Somehow Bent was not able to finish the chance. Chelsea came right back on the attack with Hazard shouting for a penalty on what looked like a pretty clear dive to me.

After the furious first 20 minutes, the game really settled down and stalled. Neither team had anything that felt particularly dangerous. I thought Sidwell and Parker continued to do a great job in the middle, but the standout player for me was Kasami. His work rate was good. He played some really great passes. And best of all he was showing strength and making some great tackles.

Just before half time, Chelsea was able to create their most dangerous chance as a ball pinging around the box fell to Ivanovic, forcing a save from Stockdale; but Fulham recovered and launched a counter of their own. However, a goal was just not to be in the first half. A 0-0 draw was a fair result for how the teams played, but if anything I thought Fulham was the slightly better team.

Chelsea came out much more determined in the second half with a sustained period of pressure that lead to a series of corners. Finally though, a ping ponging ball, that Stockdale had two chances to control, landed at the feet of Oscar who was able to tap it in; giving Chelsea a 1-0 lead.

Sidwell just missed a chance to equalize a few minutes later off of a set piece. But the goal seemed to have lifted a weight from Chelsea. They started playing much more freely and looked much the better side. It seemed that a set piece was going to be the only way Fulham could equalize. Fulham seemed a bit tired from all the chasing and defending.

One of the few Fulham highlights of the second half was when Mesca made his debut in the 72nd minute. But that was about it as Chelsea were able to add another goal in the 82nd minute. In the 89th minute Fulham got their last chance as Richardson miss hit what appeared to be a cross turning it into a curling shot that Cech had to work hard to deal with. But there just wasn't a goal in them.

Overall this wasn't a horrible performance. I thought Jol's game plan was actually pretty well thought out and worked quite well for about 50 minutes. If Fulham had finished their chances and Stockdale had held onto a ball he should have controlled, the result could have been much different.

The player highlights for me were Kasami, Amorebieta, and Parker. I thought all three had very solid games. On the downside I didn't think Stockdale played particularly well. He seemed a bit shaky coming out on a few corners and the first goal was one he really should have stopped. I also thought Taarabt was pretty poor. Perhaps it is a bit harsh to judge him, because he came in to be an attacking force. I thought he spent too much time foolishly trying to take players on though. I thought Duff played an outstanding first 30 minutes but was pretty much out of gas after that. Just further evidence that he shouldn't start. He can be a useful sub late in games, but just doesn't have the stamina to do much more.

I'm not sure what this is going to do for the supporters who want Jol out. This wasn't a game you could realistically expect to take points from. And I don't think Jol's plan was all that bad for the game. Jol might well deserve to be fired, but this match shouldn't sway you one way or another. The next five matches are going to be important. If the club can't pick up points from them, they will be in really bad situation.