Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Thursday April 30 2009
Fulham make the short trip to Stamford Bridge this Saturday keen to keep their Europa League ambitions on track. Chelsea, fresh from a 0-0 draw in the Nou Camp could possibly have one eye on the return leg with Barcelona next Wednesday. Could they be there for the taking? Could Fulham gain their first Premier League win at Stamford Bridge?
With the future of Brede Hangleand up in the air and with so many rumours circulating its heart-warming, on the eve of our derby with Chelsea, to hear the giant defender rubbish claims that he`d turned down a new deal at Craven Cottage remarking,
"I've never made any comments about the negotiations - and I never will,'
'So if you read something about me having said something - it's not true.'
Now shut out the Chelsea attack for us Brede!
Chelsea enter the fixture with a crucial Champions League fast looming. Guus Hiddink will be keen not to endanger his sides chances of reaching the final in Rome and the temptation will be there to rest several key players. It`s difficult to attempt to work out who will be rested but there may be an afternoon of rest for the likes of Cech,Terry, Essien, Drogba and Lampard. But we should point out that their squad is deep enough to allow more than adequate replacements to make an appearance.
Defnitley out are the injured quartet of Joe Cole, Paulo Ferreira, Deco and Ricardo Carvalho.
Although we`ve implied he may be rested he may also play. If he does please don`t give him the chance to unleash one of those free kicks he always seems to score from against us.
For the first time in a long while Roy Hodgson enters this fixture with some injury worries. After being able to able to name, virtually, the same starting eleven every weekend he now finds that there are serious sdoubts over the availability of his strike pairing of Andrew Johnson and Bobby Zamora whils the foot injury Simon Davies has been carrying may have seen his season finish a touch prematurely.
So, considering the gravity of the situation, we suspect that Roy will go for a starting eleven of:-
Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Gera, Murphy, Etuhu, Dempsey, Nevland and Zamora (or Kamara)
If the Norwegain plays, as looks to be the case with Andrew Johnson struggling, he`ll be looking to continue the good form he showed last weekend. Can he score another winning goal? Why not!
Recent matches between the two sides at Stamford Bridge have seen Fulham struggle. In fact if we can pull off a win on Saturday it`ll be our first at Stamford Bridge for forty-five years. If you must know how the record books stand, (masochistic or what, then you`ll find that in Premier League fixtures at Stamford Bridge Chelsea have 4 wins to our 0 with 3 games being drawn.
Does it get better in all League games played at Stamford Bridge? Well NO! Chelsea have won 16 times to our 2 with
The reciprocating fixture earlier this season saw the two teams share the spoils in a four goal thriller with Clinto Dempsey scoring twice and our nemises Frank Lampard also getting a brace for Chelsea.
Last season, at Stamford Bridge, the fixture was goal less akthough we did have the cheery sight of Drogba being shown the red card with just over a quarter of an hour to play.
Is there a better time to be playing Chelsea? Our neighbours have the little matter of a Champions League Semi-Final second leg on their minds next Wednesday and will be keen to rest several of their bigger names. Matters may be complicated by the fact that we have injuries to several of our first team regulars but the opportunity still exists to get in amongst Chelsea and inflict a defeat. Buoyed by our recent away form (is it really two wins on the bounce) I can see a third coming up courtesy of a narrow win.
Our next match will see Martin O`Neill bring his Aston Villa team to Craven Cottage next weekend.
Date:Thursday April 30 2009
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