Chelsea travel to Craven Cottage to take on Fulham on Valentine’s day but dont expect too much love between these London rivals as there are high stakes for both teams.
Chelsea find themselves in fifth place after Spurs won at Sunderland on Saturday, whilst Fulham are only three points above the relegation zone and will look to push towards the 40 point mark and Premiership safety.
Champions Chelsea have fallen from grace this season and are in a real battle to even finish in the top four and secure Champions League football for next season. The Blues are three points behind Spurs, and will look to bounce back after a 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Liverpool last Sunday.
The visitors main injury concerns are to defenders Alex and Jose Bosingwa, who are both ruled out of the fixture. Carlo Ancelotti faces a dilemma up front, as he has three world class strikers in Didier Drogba, Fernando Torres and Nicolas Anelka, but the trio did not gel in their defeat to Liverpool last weekend so the Italian may look to leave one on the bench, most likely Anelka.
Fulham are in good form and have recorded 11 points in their last six league matches, moving them up to 12th in the table. Due to terrible results on their travels, Mark Hughes’s men have depended on an excellent record at Craven Cottage, and have won their last three Premier League home matches without conceding a goal. Their record historically against Chelsea is terrible however, having recorded just one victory in 28 league and cup meetings.
The Cottagers are still without centre back Phillippe Senderos and although Bobby Zamora played for the reserves in midweek, he is still not match fit and will not feature. Fulham do have three ex-Chelsea men in their ranks however, and Eidur Gudjohnsen, Damien Duff and Steven Sidwell will look to impress against their former employers. On loan signing from Chelsea Gael Kakuta is ineligible to play.
Expect a passionate affair on Monday night, with both teams looking to attack and win the match. Chelsea have the firepower to win the game, and new signing Fernando Torres will look for a better performance than last week if he is to endear himself to his new supporters. Fulham’s home record is one of the best in the league however, and Mark Hughes will spur his men on to attack their local rivals and strive for three points.