Chelsea make the short trip across the west of town this afternoon to face Chris Coleman’s Fulham in what is likely to be a full-blooded affair.
Fulham won last season’s corresponding fixture 1-0, Luis Boa Morte scoring the winner after 17 minutes. Chelsea were poor in a match that had everything from a sending off to a pitch invasion, and never really looked like taking all three points. It was the Cottagers’ first win over the Blues for 27 years.
Jose Mourinho is expecting today’s game to be equally as difficult.
“Fulham is always difficult. They play much better against us. They fight much more against us. They will give us a hard game again. That’s their season,” he said.
Mourinho will be without Michael Ballack after his red card against Liverpool earned a three-game ban. Arjen Robben looks the likely replacement as Joe Cole is still recuperating from his troublesome knee injury.
Fulham are suffering an injury-crisis and will be without a host of first team players including Luis Boa Morte, Jimmy Bullard, Ahmad Elrich, Simon Elliott, Mark Pembridge and Philippe Christanval. There are also doubts over Papa Bouba Diop, Carlos Bocanegra and Brian McBride.
The Blues have only failed to take points off Fulham at Fulham on five of 27 occasions, and have won 16 times at Craven Cottage.