Chelsea’s bid to give new coach Andre Villas-Boas a winning start in his first Premier League match was scuppered by some excellent goalkeeping as they drew 0-0 at Stoke City on Sunday.
After a muted first half, Chelsea picked up the pace after the break with John Obi Mikel, substitute Nicolas Anelka and Salomon Kalou forcing Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic to make some great saves.
Striker Fernando Torres was behind many of the Chelsea moves forward, playing with a confidence last seen in his best Liverpool days but despite dominating the game last year’s league runners-up could not find the back of the net.
Villas-Boas, 33, became the fourth youngest manager in Premier League history when Blues owner Roman Abramovich made a surprise move to hire him after just one season in charge at Porto.
That lack of experience is a concern for some and, while Stoke were in typically obdurate mood, this was a far from convincing start to Villas-Boas’s reign.
With little money spent on new signings so far, his first Chelsea team-sheet contained the same collection of aging stars that lost out to Manchester United in last season’s title race.
However, Villas-Boas showed he won’t shy away from making big decisions as he selected Fernando Torres ahead of Didier Drogba and the £50 million Spaniard responded to the vote of confidence with one of his more energetic displays.
Torres felt he should have had a penalty at the start of the second half when Ryan Shawcross challenged the forward but referee Mark Halsey was unmoved and the official snubbed another spot-kick claim when Frank Lampard went down too easily under pressure from Marc Wilson.
Two of Chelsea’s title rivals, Arsenal and Liverpool, have also already dropped points with Arsene Wenger’s side drawing 0-0 at Newcastle United on Saturday and Kenny Dalglish’s men being held 1-1 at home to Sunderland in their opener.
Champions Manchester United start the defence of their title later in the day at West Bromwich Albion, while fellow trophy hopefuls Manchester City kick off their campaign at home to promoted Swansea City on Monday. — Reuters,AFP