Saturday, 24 December 2011

EPL: Chelsea v Fulham preview

Chelsea must use this game to rubber stamp their credentials for a top-four place and it could be a chance for Fernando Torres to regain his form. Fulham go into this derby on the back of their heaviest home defeat since 1968. Andre Villas-Boas knows his Chelsea team must build on the very good point at Spurs with a home win here. They're unbeaten in five league matches, with the draw at Wigan being the only poor result in that spell. Daniel Sturridge is scoring for fun. He has nine league goals already - more than twice the number scored by Drogba and Torres together. He has the pace and confidence to torment the Cottagers, who seem to be troubled by internal bickering.

Villas-Boas is hoping David Luiz will spare him a defensive crisis for the Boxing Day west London derby. Villas-Boas found himself down to just one centre-half in Thursday night's league game at Tottenham after Branislav Ivanovic limped off injured, along with midfielder John Obi Mikel. Both look set to miss Monday's Stamford Bridge showdown, but Villas-Boas was optimistic Luiz would return from a knee problem, while he may recall Frank Lampard with Ramires suspended after picking up his fifth booking of the season.

The Cottagers are physically unscathed from their 5-0 home defeat to Manchester United in midweek and have been boosted by Steve Sidwell's return to training after a hernia operation. The 29-year-old, though, is unlikely to feature against his former club at Stamford Bridge and will be joined on the sidelines by fellow midfielder Simon Davies (back), goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer (spine) and defender Zdenek Grygera (knee).

Facts and stats
Didier Drogba has scored three goals in his last four Premier League starts against Fulham

Fulham have failed to score in three of their last four Premier League games against Chelsea

There have been five goals scored in the opening 10 minutes of the last six Premier League meetings between Chelsea and Fulham at Stamford Bridge

The last two goals Fulham have scored against Chelsea have both come at Stamford Bridge in the fourth minute of a game

Fulham have won none of their last 35 Premier League London derbies away from home (D12 L23)
Fulham have won just one of the 20 Premier League games against Chelsea (W1 D7 L12) and none at Stamford Bridge (D3 L7)

Fulham’s last (and only) top flight win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge came in March 1964 (2-1)

Fulham have won just four of their last 45 Premier League away matches (W4 D19 L22)

Fulham only have six different scorers this season, fewer than any other team

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