Things can only get better in 2007… can’t they?
The Observer, Amy Lawrence: “In stoppage time, with another two points slipping from their grasp, John Terry sat in the dugout and shook his head in thinly disguised dismay. For the second time in five days he has looked on as the kind of defensive shockers that are anathema to him gave Manchester United yet more Premiership ground. The gap has been extended to six points.”
Independent on Sunday, Steve Tongue: “This is getting serious. For the fourth game in succession, a Chelsea defence deprived of John Terry’s commanding presence conceded two goals, allowing Fulham, like Reading last Tuesday, to leave Stamford Bridge with a deserved draw and putting Jose Mourinho’s side six points behind Manchester United at the head of the Premiership. There is a limit to how often Didier Drogba – reaching 20 goals for the season with his sixth in as many games – can rescue them.”
Sunday Times, Joe Lovejoy: “For the first time last night, Jose Mourinho admitted he was a “worried man”. For the fourth Premiership match in succession Chelsea’s once impenetrable defence conceded twice and, as against Reading on Boxing Day, they could manage only two in reply, and are now six points adrift of the leaders, Manchester United. Mourinho said: “Yes, I’m worried. If we were at the top of our form it wouldn’t be a drama, the drama is that we’re not. We cannot defend. We concede incredibly easy goals and in attack we have only one player (Didier Drogba) performing.” The Chelsea manager said the solution was not “spending millions” in the January transfer window, but getting “the best goalkeeper in the world” (Peter Cech) and “the best centre-half in the world” (John Terry) fit and back in the team. Terry, who had keyhole surgery on his spine to repair a bulging disc last Thursday, is already back in training and joined in the “warm-down” after the match.”
Sunday Telegraph, Patrick Barclay: “These west London derbies are seldom disappointing and the wet and wild conditions helped to make this one no exception. Nor was the drama confined to the match, for Jose Mourinho made a better and more succinct job of panning his team than any critic could have done. “We can’t defend,” said the Chelsea manager, “and in attack we have one player.””
Official Chelsea FC Website: “Two goals had been conceded for the fourth Premiership game running and with Man United pulling six points clear, the price is being paid.”
Jose Mourinho goes into this game against near neighbours Fulham down to his last sixteen senior players.
John Terry underwent back surgery in midweek but has returned to light training, while Joe Cole may need an operation on his broken foot. Both Petr Cech and Carlo Cudicini remain sidelined, as does Arjen Robben with a hamstring strain. Khalid Boulahrouz is suspended.
Fulham, who have won only one of their last five games, are without Papa Bouba Diop, Zat Knight, Heider Helguson and Claus Jensen, while Luis Boa Morte is only fit enough for a place on the bench.
Chelsea have conceded two goals in each of their last three Premiership games. Boxing Day’s 2-2 draw with Reading left the Blues four points adrift of Manchester United.
The Blues have won seven of the eleven Premiership meetings with Fulham, including this season’s reverse fixture 0-2. Victory here will complete a third Premiership ‘double’ over the Cottagers.