Wed 17 Apr 2013 20:00 (Attendance: 25,002)
It's Chelsea's penultimate London derby of the season and a game in hand over the teams immediately above and below in the table. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton look locally…
You may still be fuming about decisions that went against Chelsea on Sunday, and perhaps disappointed that the performance of the last 30 minutes didn't start an hour earlier. But there's no time for regret.
As the Barclays Premier League campaign returns to loom large, disappointment must be quickly dispensed with and the players now have the chance to bring six points back from Fulham tonight and Liverpool on Sunday.
Tonight's game is the one the champions of Europe have in hand over fellow third-fourth place aspirants Tottenham (level on points). Arsenal's home stalemate against Everton was probably the best outcome, Chelsea now lying two points equidistant between the pair with six points more to play for.
Over the previous three seasons tonight's opponents have finished eighth then ninth; they currently lie 10th. They are unbeaten in six matches, three of them wins. Chelsea have not won away since Boro in the FA Cup at the end of February.
This is the Whites' second successive local skirmish at Craven Cottage. On 1 April they beat QPR 3-2, having led 3-0. Former Blue Steve Sidwell was sent off with 11 minutes go but the score remained unchanged.
Another Fulham win tonight would inflict three defeats in succession on Chelsea for the first time since May and August 2006 when, having already won the title, we lost the last two league games against Blackburn and Newcastle and the Community Shield against Liverpool.
The last hat-trick of defeats when it mattered was in September/October 2002 when reverse at Viking Stavanger in the UEFA Cup was sandwiched between domestic losses at home to West Ham and away to Liverpool.
A draw has been the result in our last five encounters in all competitions. You have to go back to the start of the Double-winning 2009/10 season for a Chelsea win, a goal in either half for Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka.
By a slight quirk, going into last weekend's matches, west London's less senior club, Queens Park Rangers, had exactly the same league record as Fulham in 2007/08 - won four, drawn 12, lost 16. Back then Roy Hodgson's team won four of their last six matches to survive. On Saturday QPR lost 0-2 at Everton.
Most Chelsea goals in a season
142 in 2009/10
126 in 2012/13
121 in 1964/65
117 in 1960/61 and 2006/07
112 in 2011/12
110 in 2008/09
Fulham have played 23 fewer games than Chelsea.
Most Chelsea games in a season
68 in 2012/13 (minimum)
64 in 2006/07
62 in 2007/08
61 in 1999/00 and 2011/12)
60 in 1965/66
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Manchester City v Wigan 7.45pm
West Ham v Manchester United 7.45pm - Sky Sports
Fulham v Chelsea 8pm
|Barclays Premier League top half|
|The race for the Champions League - Games remaining|
|Chelsea (7)||Arsenal (5)||Tottenham (6)|
|Fulham (a)||Fulham (a)||Man City (h)|
|Liverpool (a)||Man Utd (h)||Wigan (a)|
|Swansea (h)||QPR (a)||Southampton (h)|
|Man Utd (a)||Wigan (h)||Chelsea (a)|
|Tottenham (h)||Newcastle (a)||Stoke (a)|
|Aston Villa (a)||Sunderland (h)|
|Premier London League|
Click on tabs above for more briefing.
The pride of SW6 is at stake, so where will game be won and lost?
At his pre-match press conference Rafael Benitez reiterated the need to use all available players throughout the games left in this longest ever Chelsea season.
If Benitez stays true to recent pattern, and providing Vincent Kompany has handed the player his shirt back, Fernando Torres will be expected to start as the manager rotates his strikers. Although the Spaniard played alongside goalscorer Demba Ba on Sunday, he may be ploughing a lone furrow again this evening.
Whoever is upfront needs to be aware Fulham's centre-back Brede Hangeland (pictured below) likes to bring the ball out from deep - and can be caught in possession.
Like Chelsea, the Whites will be without a few regulars for this game. Both wide midfielders, popular former Blue Damien Duff and Ashkan Dejagah, who has been a big player for them, are missing. Another ex-Chelsea player, centre midfielder Steve Sidwell, is suspended.
Sidwell's replacement, Eyong Enoh, has less positional discipline, so Georgios Karagounis has to play deeper than usual. The Blues' attacking midfield three will hope to exploit any unfamiliarity for the Cameroonian in his second full Barclays Premier League match.
The hosts do have one of the top flight's most enigmatic but effective strikers in Dimitar Berbatov - he was in brilliant form against QPR, netting twice. He has scored five times in 16 matches against Chelsea, so the defence - likely to include John Terry, though Ashley Cole and Gary Cahill again miss out - will have to remain alert for 90 minutes.
Having passed Sunday's deadline without receiving a 10th of the season, David Luíz will not be suspended for accumulated cautions.
Berbatov and his deeper-lying partner Bryan Ruiz play quite free roles. Hugo Rodallega can also present a threat off the bench.
Martin Jol's team are well-organised, pressing all over the pitch, positive and purposeful when in possession. But they are vulnerable to occasional lapses that cost them dear, especially when defenders have pushed forward.
Chelsea will be looking to be very quick on the counter attack to take full advantage.
Click on tabs above for more briefing.
WE HAVE HISTORY
Chelsea are looking to extend our unbeaten run against Fulham to 15 games since our last defeat, in March 2006 by Luis Boa Morte's only goal.
West London's big derby was first played at Craven Cottage in December 1910, the hosts edging the game 1-0. The match half a century later in January 1962 was rather more eventful.
The Blues, three months into the fledgling management career of Tommy Docherty (pictured below), were desperately fighting to avoid what appeared inevitable relegation against a similarly threatened Fulham.
A few days earlier the Whites had splashed a hefty £14,000 on Gunners striker Jackie Henderson, a former Scotland and Arsenal teammate of the new Chelsea boss.
Docherty's then wife Agnes even phoned her friend Shirley Henderson saying: 'I hope Jackie plays a blinder - but I hope Fulham lose.'
Such was the tension, Fulham skipper Johnny Haynes suggested a ban on any mention of the 'r' word before the match, but it was on everyone's lips again afterwards.
The game began in bizarre fashion when teenage left-back Graham Mealand dealt poorly with a speculative Chelsea cross, side-footing the ball into his own net to hand the visitors a 1-0 lead.
So it stayed into the second half, when after a few minutes Graham Leggat equalised for the hosts. Chelsea's youngsters now combined to drive their side into a two-goal lead, with Barry Bridges first providing for veteran Andy Malcolm to score, then two minutes later tumbling theatrically to earn a penalty, converted by fellow homegrown Bobby Tambling.
Almost from the kick off Tosh Chamberlain replied with a direct free-kick, Haynes making a decoy run that foiled the youthful wall.
Only now did new recruit Henderson make what he must have thought a decisive contribution, heading on for Eddie Lowe to equalise.
Twenty-three minutes remained for either side to steal both points, and tempers frayed. Just before the end an argument festering between Tambling and Fulham right-back Alan Mullery flared briefly into a fist fight.
The referee booked the pair and minutes later, at the death, Peter Brabrook stole in from the right wing to head a dramatic winner from Frank Blunstone's cross.
Haynes took the result poorly. When a Fulham fan muttered 'Second Division for you' within his earshot he ran down, raged at the man and had commissionaires throw him out of the ground.
Come May, though, it was the Blues who were relegated, Fulham avoiding the drop by one point and reaching the FA Cup semi-finals.
Our 0-1 defeat at Craven Cottage in March 2006 is the only reverse we have suffered there in 17 games in all competitions since our neighbours, including George Best and Bobby Moore, defeated us 1-3 in April 1977.
Although Fulham is the oldest London team in the Premier League, they were originally in the Southern League, and this is only the 23rd season that Chelsea and Fulham have been in the top flight together.
Our last 10 league meetings at Craven Cottage
2002/03 - Drew 0-0
2003/04 - Chelsea won 1-0
2004/05 - Chelsea won 4-1
2005/06 - Fulham won 1-0
2006/07 -Chelsea won 2-0
2007/08 - Chelsea won 2-1
2008/09 - Drew 2-2
2009/10 - Chelsea won 2-0
2010/11 - Drew 0-0
2011/12 - Drew 1-1
The reverse fixture this season
28 November 2012 Barclays Premier League
Fulham v Chelsea in all competitions
Games played 77
Chelsea wins 42
Fulham wins 9
Head to head in the league at Craven Cottage and Loftus Road
Games played 33
Chelsea wins 19
Fulham wins 5
Biggest league win at Fulham for each team
08/04/1977 - Fulham 3-1 Chelsea
13/11/2004 - Fulham 1-4 Chelsea
Frank Lampard made his Chelsea debut: 4,259
Fulham dropped points at home: 74
Arsenal won a trophy: 2,887
Liverpool won the league: 8,382
Visit again at lunchtime for part two of the Briefing.
Chelsea have gained one point from our last four away Barclays Premier League games since winning at Stoke in January.
The Blues have opened the scoring in 20 Premier League matches which is a higher percentage than any other club. We have gone on to win 15 games and draw four. Only West Ham have defeated us.
The Blues are five points better off compared to the corresponding 31 fixtures last season.
We have gained 12 points from losing positions this term.We have dropped 14 points from winning positions.
|Last six results|
|Mar 30||Southampton (a)||L 1-2|
|Apr 1||Manchester United (FA Cup h)||W 1-0|
|Apr 4||Rubin Kazan (Europa League a)||W 3-1|
|Apr 7||Sunderland (h)||W 2-1|
|Apr 11||Rubin Kazan (Europa League a)||L 2-3|
|Apr 14||Manchester City (FA Cup Wembley)||L 1-2|
Premier League scorers
Lampard 12 (4 pens), Mata 10, E Hazard 8 (1 pen), Torres 7 (1 pen), Ivanovic 5, Ramires 4, Ba 2, Cahill 2, Terry 2, Cole 1, D Luiz 1, Marin 1, Moses 1, Oscar 1 (pen), Sturridge 1, own goals 3. Total 61
League games since
An away win: 4
An away draw: 3
An away defeat: 0
|Chelsea's next three games|
|Sun 21 Apr||Liverpool away||4pm|
|Thu 25 Apr||Basel away||8.05pm|
|Sun 28 Apr||Swansea home||3pm|
Frank Lampard needs two goals to equal our all-time top scorer Bobby Tambling on 202.
If selected, David Luiz will make his 100th Blues appearance in all competitions.
Seventeen years ago at the end of the 1995/96 season Fulham were 17th in the Third Division (fourth tier) and in the next five seasons won three promotions including as champions of the Second and First Divisions. The Cottagers have never won a major trophy.
Fulham are in their 12th successive season in the Premier League which is their longest spell in the top flight.
They have only gained five points from losing positions which is the worst record in the Premier League.
At home this term they have won 24 points from a possible 45 with seven wins against Norwich, West Brom, Aston Villa, Newcastle, West Ham, Stoke and QPR, three draws against Everton, Southampton and Wigan and five defeats to Man City, Sunderland, Tottenham, Swansea and Man Utd.
The Cottagers have dropped 20 points from winning positions.
Fulham have scored all six penalties awarded to them in the Premier League this term.
Manager Martin Jol
Days in charge: 680
|Fulham's last 10 year league history|
|Last six results|
|Feb 23||Stoke (h)||W 1-0|
|Mar 2||Sunderland (a)||D 2-2|
|Mar 17||Tottenham (a)||W 1-0|
|Apr 1||QPR (h)||W 3-2|
|Apr 7||Newcastle (a)||L 0-1|
|Apr 13||Aston Villa (a)||D 1-1|
Premier League scorers
Berbatov 13 (3 pens), Petrić 5 (1 pen), Sidwell 4 (1 pen), Duff 3, Kačaniklić 3, Rodallega 3, Ruiz 3, Baird 2, Karagounis 1, Richardson 1, Riether 1, own goals 5. Total 44
League games since
A home win: 0
A home draw: 4
A home defeat: 2
Fulham's completed January transfers
Ins Urby Emanuelson (AC Milan, loan), Eyong Enoh (Ajax, loan), Emmanuel Frimpong (Arsenal, loan), Stanislav Manolev (PSV Eindhoven, loan)
Outs Stephen Kelly (Reading, undisclosed), David Stockdale (Hull, loan), Pajtim Kasami (Lucerne, loan), Matthew Briggs (Watford, loan)
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Mike Dean is the official for his fourth Chelsea match this term. The previous three were wins at Tottenham (4-2) in October, Southampton (5-1) in the FA Cup in January and Wigan (4-1) at Stamford Bridge the following month.
Fulham's Steve Sidwell is suspended.
The deadline for players receiving a suspension for accruing 10 cautions has now passed.
A John Terry brace, coupled with a David Luiz wonder strike, saw the Blues run out comfortable 3-0 winners at Craven Cottage and move above Arsenal into third in the Barclays Premier League table.
The Brazilian set us on our way to a first victory at the home of our local rivals since 2009 with a stunning strike on the half-hour, before the captain headed home just before half-time.
Fulham threatened at times, but in truth it was a deserved win, our first on the road in the league since January, and we now head to Anfield on Sunday for another massive test in fine spirits.
Rafael Benitez made four changes to the Chelsea side which lost at Wembley on Sunday, with Frank Lampard returning to the fold to make his 600th appearance for the Blues, becoming only the third player in our history - alongside Peter Bonetti and Ron Harris - to do so.
For Fulham, former Chelsea duo Damien Duff and Steve Sidwell missed the game through injury and suspension respectively.
It was the home side quickest out of the blocks, and they saw a glorious chance go begging inside the opening three minutes when Bryan Ruiz got the wrong side of David Luiz, but only managed to divert his volley over the bar from a dangerous Sascha Riether cross.
The Blues had struggled to settle in the opening minutes of the game with simple passes going astray, but our first attack of any note yielded a decent opportunity. Fulham failed to deal with a Ivanovic cross sufficiently, and as Torres flicked a header into the path of Lampard, Mark Schwarzer was forced into a smart save low down.
It was Moses, rather than Hazard, starting wide on the left, and the Nigerian was struggling to see much of the ball early on as our attacking play tended to go through the Belgian and Ivanovic down the right-hand side.
The Serbian defender became the first player to enter the referee's book in the 18th minute for a high challenge on Mladen Petric, but fortunately for the Blues, Giorgos Karagounis' subsequent free-kick sailed safely into the arms of Petr Cech.
Moments later it was Karagounis who came closest to breaking the deadlock, cutting inside Ivanovic and sending a dipping strike beyond Cech, only to see it crash against the top of the bar and drop over.
It was the first moment of real quality in the game, and though the contest was being played at a high intensity, clear-cut opportunities -at both ends - were proving elusive.
Just before the half-hour mark the hosts again went close, this time through John Arne Riise, while at the other end Moses, who by now had switched flanks with Hazard, fizzed a teasing ball across the face of the goal.
A minute later and the Blues, perhaps against the run of play, took the lead, and in some style.
David Luiz picked the ball up fully 30 yards from goal, and with time and space on his side, the Brazilian fired an unstoppable strike beyond Schwarzer into the top corner of the net.
It was the defender's fifth goal of the campaign, and one fit to grace any occasion.
More importantly, it was a goal which had given us a crucial advantage, although five minutes later we had Cech to thank for preserving our lead when he displayed fantastic agility to push an Urby Emanuelson strike, which appeared destined for the bottom corner, around the post.
Torres then fired high and wide following a clever ball out from the back by David Luiz as the game began to open up.
Lampard almost deceived Schwarzer with a powerful free-kick from distance as we looked to double our lead, but we didn't have to wait long as three minutes before the break it was 2-0.
Juan Mata, who had been a peripheral figure for much of the first half, received the ball deep inside Fulham territory, and as the Spaniard floated his cross to the far post, Terry rose highest to steer his header beyond Schwarzer.
If the game had taken a while to heat up, it was reaching boiling point as the half drew to a close, and almost immediately from the restart the hosts were appealing for a penalty.
Bryan Ruiz exchanged passes with Karagounis on the edge of the penalty area, and as the forward went past Terry he tumbled to the ground.
The home fans were livid, but Mike Dean stood firm and gave the decision our way, while also booking Ruiz for simulation.
Fulham unsurprisingly began the second half on the front foot, but though they forced a couple of early corners we managed to deal with them comfortably.
The travelling Chelsea faithful had been in magnificent voice all night, and they were almost rewarded for their efforts shortly before the hour when a wonderful move involving Ivanovic, Lampard and Mata culminated with the latter narrowly failing to get a touch on a delightful Torres cross.
Benitez made his first change of the night in the 68th minute, replacing the impressive Hazard with Oscar, and a minute later Martin Jol's side were denied a goal in comical circumstances.
As a corner was whipped into the penalty area, Philippe Senderos headed towards goal, and with the net about to bulge, Petric somehow managed to divert the ball over the bar, much to the relief of those of a blue persuasion inside the Cottage.
It was a missed opportunity that would prove costly for the home side. The Blues broke at speed, and after a delightful curling effort from Moses was tipped around the post by Schwarzer, Mata's corner was flicked on by Torres and headed home by Terry.
Fulham, who had still looked in the game at 2-0, introduced Hugo Rodallega to the action late on, but Cech was seldom troubled as we saw the game out with relative ease.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, David Luiz, Terry (c), Bertrand; Ramires (Mikel 75), Lampard; Hazard (Oscar 68), Mata (Ba 80), Moses; Torres.
Unused substitutes: Turnbull, Azpilicueta, Ake, Benayoun.
Scorers David Luiz 30, Terry 42 and 71
Booked Ivanovic 18
Fulham (4-4-1-1): Schwarzer; Riether, Senderos, Hangeland (c), Riise (Rodallega 67); Ruiz, Karagounis (Frimpong 76), Enoh, Emanuelson; Berbatov; Petric (Frei 81)
Unused substitutes: Etheridge, Richardson, Hughes, Manolev.
Booked Ruiz 44, Senderos 46
Referee Mike Dean