West London Derby Preview!
After gaining a point with a last ditch goal against Aston Villa on Saturday, Fulham travel to Stamford Bridge, on Wednesday, to try and get a vital away win. Chelsea, beaten at Anfield on Sunday, will be looking to get their title challenge back on track and this fixture has all the elements of a decent derby match with West London pride at stake.
Stamford Bridge hasn`t been a happy hunting ground for Fuham, thirty one long years since we`ve won there.
Danny Murphy, speaking ahead of the game remains philosophical about the trip suggesting he`d take a point now when he`s commented ot the local media ahead of the clash,
"Well if I`m honest, if you offer me a draw I`ll take it now."
'It`s a tough game, Chelsea, and just to rub salt on the wounds they`ve gone up to Liverpool and got beaten at the weekend so they`re going to be a bit wounded."
"We`ve got a few injury problems at the moment but we will see if we can prepare ourselves for a battle at the Bridge."
"It`s a big game for us because obviously they`re our local rivals and whenever you play Chelsea it`s tough, but we`ll go there and give it a go."
"You`ve got nothing to lose, no one expects you to get anything when you go to Chelsea, so we can play with a nice freedom.'
Chelsea Team News:
Chelsea appear to be having something of an injury crisis with Frank Lampard and Yossi Benayoun not featuring in recent weeks. Up at Anfield Michael Essien and Didier Drogba were also non-starters whilst their Portuguese full back, Jose Bosingwa has only come back after a lengthy absence of close to a year.
If you throw into the mixer the fact our West London rivals lost a plethora of talent in the summer in Joe Cole, Michael Ballack, Juliano Belletti, Deco and Ricardo Carvalho then it`s quite obvious to see that their squad isn`t what it used to be.
Carlo Ancelotti recruited a Brazilian in Ramires, from Portuguese football, to bolster his squad but our spies tell us he`s been far from impressive.
However, before we get too excited it should be mentioned that the side we`ll probably face on Wednesday has a strong core of world class talent in Cech, Terry, Cole, Drogba and Anelka with Malouda and Alex also having looked impressive this season.
Our spies tell us that Chelsea could very well line up as follows as long as Alex and Anelka shake off minor knocks:-
Cech, Bosingwa, Terry, Alex, Cole, Mikel, Essien, Zhirkov, Malouda, Drogba and Anelka
Player to watch: Ashley Cole
Although he made his reputation at Arsenal, it`s hard to picture Cole in anything other than a Chelsea shirt. He may well have his detractors off the field but on it he remains one of the best left backs in the world. Fulham will need to be aware of his dangerous forays forward, forays that netted him a couple of decent goals last season.
Fulham Team News:
Injuries have not been kind to us this season. Having lost Philippe Senderos pre-season we`ve had to contend with being without Andrew Johnson as well whilst we`ve also seen key players such as Murphy, Davies and Dembele to miss key games. There is also the dreadful injury that Bobby Zamora suffered against Wolves, an injury that will keep him out until well into the New Year.
On Saturday we lost another key player when Carlos Slacido suffered an injury in a debatable tackle by Luke Young, matters couldn`t get any worse could they?
But looking on the bright side, Duff and Davies are back and Dickson Etuhu is, according to our sources, set for a return to first team action on Wednesday.
But, Chris Baird who has performed well in recent weeks is another casualty with a thigh problem.
We`re not in a position to reveal the starting eleven but don`t be too surprised if Mark Hughes packs the midfield and plays a lone striker to try and stifle Chelsea and deny them time on the ball, just like a certain Roy Hodgson did in charge of Liverpool on Sunday.
Player to watch: Damien Duff
Damien will be desperate to play against his former club and we`d like to see him play as well, purely because football is littered with players that have scored winning goals against former clubs, could it happen for Damien? Don`t discount it!
Match Facts & Stats
On paper this looks a lost cause.
Fulham have not won at Stamford Bridge for 31 years. There`s also the small matter of our awful away record (how long is it since we own on the road in the Premier League?) coupled with the outstanding statistic that Chelsea have not conceded a goal in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge since John Carew scored for Aston Villa back in March, in the meantime Chelsea have notched up something like forty goals in the plus column!
But football isn`t played on paper and we all know there can be shock results don`t we!
The four officials are Martin Atkinson (referee), Stuart Burt and Peter Kirkup (assistants) and Keith Stroud (fourth official)
Local derbies can be strange matters, strange results can happen and that`s why I`m going against the flow and suggesting Fulham can get something out of this fixture, a draw perhaps!
After our trip to Stamford Bridge we`re off on another day out, this time to face Newcastle, another tricky fixture!