Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Sunday February 13 2011
The reigning Premier League title holders arrive at Craven Cottage this Monday night, but they are a side in disarray. Their hopes of retaining the Premier League title are diminishing by the game and despite splashing something like £71 million on transfer deadline day, this is surely the time to claim their scalp!
Having joined Fulham in the January transfer window, Steve Sidwell is looking forward to kick-starting his career again. On Monday night he comes face to face with a former team of his, in Chelsea.
Speaking about the forthcoming encounter, he has this to say,
"I don`t feel like I`ve got anything to prove. It`s one of those things in life where if it works out at a club then great, if it doesn`t then you get your head down and move on. It didn`t work out at Chelsea but I`m at Fulham now - and all I`m concerned about is putting in a performance for the fans and the manager."
"Every training session and game is a trial for me. I`ve got to prove my worth to Mark Hughes and wait for discussions at the end of the season."
A good showing on Monday could go some way to cementing those claims.
With Philippe Senderos and Bobby Zamora both getting nearer to fitness by the day, Mark Hughes will soon have a full squad to choose from. Currently joining the aforementioned two on the sidelines is Dickson Etuhu although this does give one of our transfer window acquisitions, Steve Sidwell, the chance to stake a claim for a regular start, with this chance coming against, of all clubs, one of his previous in Chelsea.
Grateful that Chelsea have bolstered our ranks by allowing us to loan Gael Kakuta, we are, off course, unable to field him against his parent club tomorrow night, but Mark Hughes might well be contemplating whether Eidur Gudjohnsen could come on to play a part against the club where he enjoyed the most successful period of his Premier League career.
We can`t see Mark veering too far away from a starting eleven that looks like this,
Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Baird (or Salcido), Duff, Sidwell, Murphy, Dempsey, Johnson, Dembele
Under-rated (still) but a key component of our side.
Chelsea bring their expensively assembled squad to Craven Cottage with three of their foreign stars definitely out and a fourth rated as doubtful. Definitely out are Alex, Benayoun and Zhirkov whilst Carlo Ancelotti implied that Bosingwa is also rated as very doubtful.
Having spent an absolute fortune on transfer deadline day, desperate to shore up their Champions League aspirations, Ancelotti has already stated that the £21 million Brazilian defender, plucked from Benfica, David Luiz will start, whilst only a fool would spend £50 million on Fernando Torres and plump him on the bench.
Our spies suggest that Chelsea will line-up as follows:-
Cech, Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Cole, Essien, Lampard, Ramires (or Mikel), Anelka, Torres, Drogba
Regards as the complete sinner by the British tabloid press, I`m probably not alone offering a wry smile when it was announced that he was the England Player of the Year for 2010. A fine footballer who could trouble us with his surging runs down the left flank.
Burn those damn history books, so what if we`ve only won once in twenty-eight games against our neighbours. We`ve won three on the bounce at home and Chelsea are erratic when it comes to form. Class may be permanent but this lot are definitely having a bad spell. Time to increase the pressure on Carlo Ancelotti we think!
Mike Dean takes charger of this local derby.
If I`d have suggested I`m certain we`re going to win in those early days of the season when Chelsea were rampant, you`d be locking me up, but times change and, like I said earlier, this lot are there for the taking. As long as we don`t back-off and give them time on the ball and as long as we play our usual high-tempo game, we`ll win this comfortably!
Next weekend we stage a fifth round FA Cup tie, the only thing is we have to wait for Wigan and Bolton to play their replay before we know who we face!
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Date:Sunday February 13 2011
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