Chelsea struggled to break down a resolute Hull City defence in a cagey first half.
The Blues, who can go top of the Premier League table with victory, rarely threatened the home goal until goalkeeper Allan McGregor made a stunning save to deny Oscar 12 minutes before the break
Until then the visitors, who had John Terry back at centre-half and restored David Luiz to midfield, had edged possession.
But Hull created as many chances, with Terry culpable of creating the best one with a misplaced pass that ended with Yannick Sagbo shooting well wide.
Fernando Torres had a shot deflected into the side netting and Eden Hazard made a couple of dangerous runs.
McGregor also flapped at a Willian free-kick while Petr Cech’s only notable save saw him push away a long-range Jake Livermore strike.
A lacklustre half threatened to boil over in the final stages when Livermore dived in on Luiz, who almost scored with a dipping strike from the resulting free-kick.
With Arsenal not playing until Monday and the morning leaders Manchester City not in action until Sunday afternoon, the Blues will go a point clear with victory.
Arsenal face Aston Villa away and City travel to Newcastle.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Ramires, Luiz; Willian, Oscar, Hazard; Torres.
Subs: Schwarzer, Bertrand, Mikel, Essien, Schurrle, Mata, Eto’o.