Now comes the point of the match where we wonder when Chelsea will play like defending champions. Usually, in matches like this, John Terry starts providing the impetus shortly after half time (see, Sunderland, Stadium of Light), but for a team that spent near £80 million two weeks ago, old tricks from old horses seem anachronisms. Why is does Chelsea continue to look more mediocre than any time since Roman Abramovich bought the club?
Given the down times Chelsea saw last year, that statement may be too strong, especially given Didier Drogba sits in reserve. Perhaps bringing him on for Torres in the second half will absolve Terry the need to be overly captain-like? Perhaps bringing him on for Nicolas Anelka, ending this rouse that Anelka is one of Chelsea's best attackers, would be better for Chelsea's immediate future - the rest of this season.
Even more short-sighted than that, Chelsea continues to struggle with Fulham. After ten lackluster minutes where Chelsea failed to gain the upper hand as Fulham's control waned, Branislav Ivanovic was forced to pull Clint Dempsey's shirt, drawing a yellow card, rather than let the Fulham winger beat him into the box. And on replay, it seems Chelsea may have been lucky. A Cottager supporter could argue that foul was in the box.
In the 41st minute, Chelsea's trademark referee battering comes out, one of the first signs of their frustration. Mike Dean calls John Terry over, telling the Blues captain that their pique will not be tolerated today. It's 0-0 in the 42nd minute, but it's not Mike Dean's fault.