QPR 0 Chelsea 0
In the end it was almost all about the handshake as Chelsea and QPR produced a dire goalless draw in today’s west London derby.
Both sides failed to ensure John Terry and Ashley Cole’s reunion with Anton Ferdinand would not remain the main talking point of the game as the Blues dropped their first points of the Barclays Premier League season.
Better finishing from Eden Hazard, Park Ji-Sung and Bobby Zamora might have changed that – as might different verdicts on two penalty calls.
Otherwise, the two clubs simply appeared unable to move the agenda on from what happened at Loftus Road almost a year ago, something that saw Terry cleared in court of racially abusing Ferdinand but blanked by his fellow defender today.
The handshake itself went as well as could be expected.
Fears of a mass boycott by QPR’s players proved unfounded but Ferdinand made a real show of snubbing both Terry and Cole who also spoke in court much to the delight of the home fans.
They, too, made their feelings about the pair crystal clear.
Along with the usual abuse of Terry, came chants of, John Terry, we know what you said, and, Ashley Cole, you’re John Terry’s bitch.
Terry, who denies the Football Association charge he still faces over last year’s altercation, almost silenced them inside two minutes when he just failed to get telling contact on Frank Lampard’s corner.
Hazard had no such excuses two minutes after that when he fired Ramires’ cross straight at Julio Cesar, who was handed his debut in the QPR goal.
Rangers were far from overawed and, despite their high turnover of personnel since the clubs last met, their players seemed acutely aware what was at stake.
The home side were snapping into Chelsea, just as they had in last season’s corresponding fixture, something Ramires took exception to when he tripped Alejandro Faurlin after being fouled himself and was duly booked.
But Rangers were hardly a threat themselves.
Zamora firing too close to Petr Cech was their only effort on target in the first half, while Chelsea went close again when Fernando Torres blasted straight at Cesar after tricking his way into the box – his only effort of a risible performance.
QPR then lost both Fabio and Andy Johnson to injury in the space of just over 10 minutes, Nedum Onuoha and Jamie Mackie coming on.
Both sides had already seen soft penalty appeals rejected but, in between the substitutions, Chelsea had two that might have been given.
First, Terry went down after being leant on in the box by Ryan Nelsen.
And after Ryan Bertrand was booked for going through the back of Shaun Wright-Phillips, the QPR winger was fortunate to get away with a clumsy challenge on Hazard.
David Luiz sent a free diving header over from Lampard’s corner before the game began to drift aimlessly towards half-time.
Even QPR’s fans were losing interest in abusing Terry and Cole, although Mackie gave them something to cheer about when he tested Cech at the end of a neat move early in the second half.
But it was Terry’s attempts at showboating in the Rangers half that really turned up the volume and Rangers responded, captain Park wasting a glorious chance to nod them in front from Esteban Granero’s cross.
Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo responded by sending on Victor Moses for his debut, in place of Bertrand but QPR continued to enjoy the upper hand, albeit with some wasteful finishing.
Di Matteo tried again, going 4-3-3, with Ramires dropping back into midfield, and it almost had an effect when Branislav Ivanovic nodded Hazard’s cross wide.
Djibril Cisse replaced Wright-Phillips for the final 20 minutes, which witnessed an injury scare for Terry when he pulled up clutching his knee.
He was able to continue but was then involved in a comedy of errors that should have seen Zamora score, missing a lofted ball that John Obi Mikel played blind straight to the striker.
Zamora hesitated long enough to allow Terry to get back and block his finish.
Moses tested Cesar at the other end before Daniel Sturridge came on to add the urgency Torres had been lacking.
And with three minutes remaining, Hazard should have won it when he blazed over completely unmarked, as if it was always destined to be about the handshake.