Fernando Torres' problems in front of goal continued as Chelsea were held to a goalless draw at Norwich City in the Premier League's lunchtime kick-off.
The £50million forward has only scored four goals this season and has not found the net for the Blues since October. The Spain international should have ended that barren run in the second half but somehow managed to poke a shot wide when it looked easier to score.
The result means Andre Villas-Boas' men failed to gain significant ground on the three sides above them, although they would have stayed fourth whatever the score. It was also Norwich's first clean sheet of the season and a result that further enhances the reputation of their manager, Paul Lambert.
There was no place in the starting line-up for Gary Cahill, the England centre-back Chelsea recruited from Bolton Wanderers earlier in the week. David Luiz continued as John Terry's central defensive partner as Cahill, who cost £7million, was not even named among the substitutes.
Visitors start in style
Daniel Sturridge was recalled in place of Oriol Romeu as the only change from the side that had narrowly beaten Sunderland the previous week. Norwich recalled captain Grant Holt and midfielder David Fox as Lambert opted to change the side that had won 2-1 at West Bromwich Albion seven days previously.
Chelsea began imperiously with an exhibition of passing but the first chance of the game belonged to Norwich. Steve Morison set up Anthony Pilkington, whose shot from a tight angle was blocked by goalkeeper Petr Cech. The rebound almost fell perfectly for Morison, the Wales forward, but Ramires was there just in time to poke clear.
Norwich came even closer in the tenth minute when Morison set up Holt, who fired just wide after getting past Luiz. Juan Mata fired over from the edge of the box as Chelsea tried to regain their earlier poise, but when Torres tried to set Sturridge up in front of goal he found only a Norwich defender.
Holt and Morison combined again but the latter's shot from a tight angle hit only the side-netting. Torres was working hard and was denied a 27th-minute opener by John Ruddy, the Norwich goalkeeper, who got his fingertips to an effort from the outside of the Spaniard's boot that would have gone in otherwise.
Ruddy keeps Chelsea out
Frank Lampard limped off in the 35th minute with what appeared to be a calf injury and Chelsea almost fell behind before Florent Malouda came on to replace him. Bradley Johnson's shot took a deflection off Terry but Cech was able to readjust in time to save, and the half ended with Ruddy denying Mata and then Raul Meireles and Mata firing a clear chance over after doing all the hard work himself.
Luiz fired just over after the restart following an air kick from Torres, who then connected with his next try but could not hit the target. Torres should have made it 1-0 just before the hour mark when Jose Bosingwa beat Andrew Surman and supplied the perfect cross. Daniel Ayala came out to challenge but Torres should have done better than to poke wide from seven yards.
Ruddy did well to save from Mata at his near post before referee Mark Clattenburg declined to give Norwich even a free-kick when the ball clearly hit Meireles' raised arm right on the edge of the Chelsea penalty area.
Meireles almost put Chelsea ahead with a curling effort from outside the area before Ramires fired at Ruddy from even further out. Torres was replaced in the 77th minute by Romelu Lukaku as Norwich closed in on their first clean sheet of the season, although they were relieved when a shot from Mata on the turn hit the base of a post.