Blues 0 Chelsea 0

Last updated : 25 October 2003 By Richard Barker

In an entertaining game, Steve Bruce's men were forced to hold on somewhat towards the end as the players that Roman Abramovich's millions had bought pushed hard for a winner, though a draw was probably a fair result.

Without Mikael Forssell against his full-time employers, Bruce was faced with a dilemma in who to field up front with Christophe Dugarry. David Dunn got the nod, and as a result Olivier Tebily came in for his first start of the season at right back, with Damien Johnson moving into the more advanced wide right role. Claudio Ranieri showed that he had no intention of taking Blues lightly, by including the likes of Hernan Crespo, Joe Cole, Geremi and Claude Makelele from the start, when they often warm the bench in domestic encounters.

Blues started brightly enough, with Tebily and Aliou Cisse (still deputising for the injured Robbie Savage) both snapping into tackles and putting themselves about - both clearly feeling that they had an opportunity to prove themselves here. It was Chelsea who had the first real chance though, with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink failing to convert Wayne Bridge's cross.

At the other end, Dugarry tested Carlo Cudicini from distance, whilst Stan Lazaridis was a constant thorn in Chelsea's side, terrorising the hapless Glen Johnson (who is surely the worst player ever to cost £6 million) and earning John Terry a booking too for a cynical challenge. Blues were in fact the better team on the whole in the opening period, with Chelsea having two Crespo efforts saved easily by Maik Taylor, and not a lot else to show for their work.

The second half was very different, however. Chelsea had possession aplenty, but weren't able to produce much thanks to some excellent Blues defending. Crespo did tee up Hasselbaink, whose shot was deflected wide courtesy of Taylor's legs - though Crespo was lucky to get away with a foul on Kenny Cunningham in the build up. Ranieri threw on Damien Duff and Eidur Gudjohnsen in a vain attempt to grab all three points, but the closest they came was a Frank Lampard drive that was tipped over by Taylor, whilst Stephen Clemence headed just over from a Dunn free-kick at the other end.

The game lacked many clearcut chances, but was still a good advertisement for the game when football needs as many positives as it can muster. Chelsea went to the top of the table, and Blues moved to fourth, and as Ranieri and Bruce left the pitch sharing a joke, it was clear they were both satisfied with their nights work, and more importantly that football still could raise a smile when it wanted to.