The headlines were written before a ball had even been kicked. Would he, wouldn’t he? The answer to that was no — times two. Yes, Anton Ferdinand snubbed Messrs Terry and Cole’s hand pre-match, and though that might have caused some fans to sit up, the ensuing 90 minutes failed to keep any awake.
This was a match where minds were elsewhere. Chelsea were trying to recover from the UEFA Super Cup drubbing. QPR were trying to understand one another, after a busy transfer window with lots of new faces. Both were lost after an international break away.
Loftus Road was the venue for John Terry’s 425th outing as Chelsea captain, and the barrage he received from the home crowd was astronomical: boos wherever he went, chants of “hope he dies!” when he went down late on.
Roberto Di Matteo had warned his side of the dangers, especially because of “the rivalry of the clubs”. And perhaps the occasion got too much for Andre Marriner, who, on more than one occasion, failed to give The Blues penalties which they insisted should have been.
Hazard would continue in the playmaker role — Mata was given an extended break after his summer outings — and the Man Of The Match for every Chelsea game this season continued to show his trickery and vision after three minutes when a flowing move presented him with an opportunity to score.
He could have won another penalty for his new side had Marriner been less harsh, with the former Lille man clearly tripped in the box, but for the West Midlands’ official to, somehow, call it for a goal-kick.
QPR had penalty shouts of his own but Fabio had collided into his Brazilian compatriot David Luiz, not the contrary.
Bobby Zamora was the man to test a keeper first, before Torres, on his 50th Premier League outing for Chelsea, tried his best against Julio Cesar.
But neither keeper was to be beaten. After all, both had the title of Champion of Europe around them once in their lifetime.
And that tag was evident when the former Inter Milan goalkeeper shoved away a Moses shot.
The Nigerian had just come on for Ramires, who still has yet to convince critics of his right-wing abilities, with Moses imposing a sturdier figure.
QPR had the best chance when a Mikel backpass was hopeless short, but Cech was able to pounce on Zamora’s indecisiveness.
Fernando Torres tried, but ultimately failed to score, and after 80 minutes, he was told to make way for Daniel Sturridge, a decision he did not take well.
Frank Lampard, after an excellent showing for England in the last week, retreated to his shell in a defensive midfield role. Roberto Di Matteo ought to perhaps exploit his abilities as Roy Hodgson is.
But the game fizzed out. In fact, it never even started bubbling. New players came in, but only Eden Hazard has started consistently; Azpilicueta and Oscar remained on the bench throughout.
Chelsea are unbeaten, still top of the table, and this is a clean sheet. But this was a match where maximum points should have been taken.