Mark Hughes felt his side deserved a point for their 2nd half display. Really? I think he's being disingenuous at best or naive at worst - and I'm certain Sparky's seen too much professional football for it to be the latter.
Why not turn in a solid 90 minutes? How many sides would expect to get something from a game against the Champs by only performing at 50%? We got precisely what we deserved - nowt. Chelsea, way below their best, should have been out of sight before we had our first decent shot on goal. Two off the line, Schwarzer getting in the way of a close-range fizzer he knew nothing about, Kalou and Malouda both guilty of failing to finish when clean through.
The tragedy of our fruitless endeavours, an inability to ask any questions of a below par Chelsea. I could have played centre-back alongside John Terry, who was clearly struggling by the end. Terry's suspect back is going to bring a premature end to his career I'm certain. Not once did Duff test his pace against Boswinga. With both he and Davies continually checking back inside and passing square, or back into midfield, these two need a spell on the bench.
Davies was our most dangerous player. There was danger every time he conceded possession or delivered a hospital pass to another white shirt - I gave up counting them. We manufactured nothing from our four corners or free-kicks into the box. Invariably, if you review the video, they acted only as springboards for rapid Chelsea counter attacks. When you're playing a top side like the leaders away it's unlikely you will enjoy more of the possession. You must therefore maximise any opportunities you get to hurt the opposition. This is what sides like Stoke and Blackburn do so well. We are abject in this department.
Let's turn the microscope on our attacking game plan. Was there one? Knowing your talismanic striker is out long term you ask, where are the goals coming from to keep you afloat in the league? I genuinely don't recall either Duff or Murphy putting in a threatening shot to date with a third of the season gone. Davies too can lash a ball from distance. Take Essien's winner. Who from our midfield four ever charges the near post for flicks, headers and feints to unsettle defenders? Etuhu on the odd occasion maybe. Wing backs? Salcido shows willing, but Kelly can't offer that - even debutant Briggs showed more ambition to go forward.
We had two real efforts on goal in the last 20 minutes as we belatedly realised Chelsea were running out of steam. Who hits the 2nd with his first touch? Why is Hughes not starting last season's Player of the Year. Gera was poor against Villa...but who wasn't? He is the one front player with vision and some intelligence. He has a good shot, he's strong with his head, knows his abilities and rarely over-elaborates.
Dembele, Dempsey and AJ are running around like headless chickens. When Andy was introduced, far from unsettling Terry, the ball never got to him for 10 minutes. Dembele in August ghosted past defenders with the ball seemingly tied to his laces, now he's running up cul-de-sacs, his touch gone. Coming back into a lop-sided and struggling side fills me with foreboding for Andy's prospects of getting back on the goal trail with so little to feed off. I sense opposition teams will find Fulham pretty toothless till January at least.
Apart from Hughes strange assertion we 'deserved a point' was his brusque response in saying he was not concerned by our current form. Thousands of supporters I suspect might disagree. In the last month I note WBA, Bolton, Blackburn, Everton, Blackpool and now Stoke all playing better football than us. Wolves have turned in some exceptional performances with absolutely no luck...West Ham and Wigan are showing flashes of spirit...while we slide ever closer towards the bottom three, a position likely to be compounded should the winless streak away from home continue at Newcastle.
Having shunted nice guy Ray into the sidings and surrounded himself with his own team, Mark may be developing a bunker mentality reminiscent of Sanchez at the same stage of the 2007 season - and we all know how that ended. I hope I'm wrong, and this is not an over-reaction to a narrow 0-1 loss to the league leaders, but the worry beads are out of the draw...
Please tell me I'm wrong! To finish on a note of optimism. Bravo for Briggs, our next Chris Smalling. Hope he gets a chance to shine.