Chelsea 0 Birmingham City 0

Last updated : 18 January 2004 By Footymad Previewer

Chelsea now face a massive task as they trail Arsenal by six points, as they failed to break down a resilient Birmingham City at Stamford Bridge as the Midlanders forced a deserved 0-0 draw.

Forty six points from 22 games is still not enough to move Chelsea closer to their North London rivals.

Steve Bruce, Birmingham's manager filled the midfield like a well stuffed turkey, leaving Chelsea with not just egg on their faces but giblets too.

Chelsea simply did not have enough guile to get past Birmingham goalkeeper Maik Taylor, who was easily the man-of-the-match.

Taylor blocked shots from a host of players, not least Frank Lampard on 12 minutes.

But a Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink fluffed header on 20 minutes signalled the mood of the match.

Chelsea will lament Joe Cole's excellent curling effort from wide just inside the penalty area that had Taylor flapping, and only the left upright prevented the England midfielder from scoring on 22 minutes.

But it was a terrific goal-line clearance on 49 minutes by Oliver Tebily from a William Gallas flick which best summed up Birmingham's honesty.

It was one-way traffic as far as possession went but Birmingham did have the odd chance - Robbie Savage should have done better a minute before Tebily's miraculous saving effort.

Savage latched onto a Carlo Cudicini knock-out but shot wide from just inside the penalty area.

"It was backs to the wall stuff at the end," said Bruce.

"Chelsea did not underestimate us, but we took the game to them and competed. That's what you have to do in this league if you want to win it or stay in it." Chelsea coach Claudio Ranieri thinks his side's bad period is over, commenting: "I see my players everyday and see them doing the right things.

"I'm frustrated. We tried everything, it wasn't easy, they pressed everywhere but we could not build any play.

"The second half was better but the luck was not with us today and their goalkeeper was fantastic."