Sat 01 Mar 2014 15:00 (Attendance: 24,577)
The first of four London derbies in March is the most local of them all. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton look just a little way west...
It is leaders versus bottom-feeders on Saturday, the biggest disparity between west London's biggest clubs since 29 October 1966, when Fulham lay 19th and Chelsea were First Division leaders. The Whites have conceded more than two Premier League goals a game on average at Craven Cottage this season. However Chelsea have not won away since the memorable Manchester City league game on 3 February.
Felix Magath is the third manager in three months appointed by the new man at Fulham's helm, US businessman Shahid Khan, who asked departing owner Mohamed Al Fayed to take his incongruous Michael Jackson statue with him.
Magath is attempting to build his own monument at the Cottage, to hard work. His old school army drilling and mind games might seem a little off the wall but he won't stop 'til he gets enough from his squad.
The 60-year-old Bavarian saved a Frankfurt side in a more perilous position: 17 games to go, eight points from safety, they stayed up by two points with the third-best record in the Bundesliga over that period.
On arrival at the Cottage Magath targeted six victories from remaining fixtures at West Bromwich Albion, Cardiff, Manchester City, Aston Villa, Spurs and Stoke plus home games against Chelsea, Newcastle, Everton, Norwich, Hull and Crystal Palace.
However, he was instantly introduced to the Whites' damaging habit of conceding late goals. The Throstles netted a late equaliser at the Hawthorns in what was 'The Torturer's' first game in charge. 'We have to play to win, not for the fans,' Magath admitted. So the Whites' run-in might not be such a thriller.
There is also the outside possibility of the Cottagers suffering a curse similar to that inflicted on Chelsea in 1973 when the old 'Gatling Gun George' Hilsdon weathervane was removed as part of the East Stand redevelopment. The Blues suffered a decade-and-a-half of financial difficulties and relegation until a replica was put up.
The Jacko tribute was removed on 25 September last year, four days after Fulham were vanquished 2-0 at Stamford Bridge. Ominously, they have lost 15 of 22 league games since the statue beat it.
Chelsea were the only English club to take anything from a Champions League match this week. The Blues' first-half mastery of hosts Galatasaray was let down once more by the lack of a killer instinct. The Turks gained momentum and levelled the score, in similar fashion to West Bromwich Albion a few weeks ago.
That begs the question, does the team with the best attack or best defence generally prevail in the Premier League?
Chelsea have conceded just two league goals since the turn of the year and the fewest this season: 21. Man City and Arsenal have both let in 27, and Liverpool actually have the 10th best with 35. City have by far the best goal difference with 42, then Liverpool 35, Chelsea 28 and Arsenal 25.
Over the last five seasons goal difference has been a much more reliable trait of title winners - four of the five champions had the best ratio, including Chelsea with a mind-blowing 71 in 2010 (pictured below).
The best rearguard has twice been crown champions in that period: Man City with 29 in 2012 and Man United in 2009 (level with Chelsea on 24 conceded). The 15 league goals opposition sides managed to put past Blues goalkeepers in 2004/05 gets better with the passage of time.
After this weekend there are midweek internationals and Chelsea's squad will be globetrotting as usual. England entertain Denmark at Wembley on Wednesday, the Czechs are at home, Egypt visit Bosnia and Serbia travel to Ireland. Our Brazilian contingent have a longer haul to South Africa. All that ahead of the Saturday evening visit of Tim Sherwood's Tottenham.
The importance of gaining three points this Saturday and next, when Spurs are the visitors, is magnified by Manchester City not having a league match either weekend. City face Sunderland in the League Cup final on Sunday and a week later play an FA Cup quarter-final against Wigan.
The Mancunians' involvement in both domestic cups could mean they are nine points behind the Blues by the time they visit Steve Bruce's Hull City at 12.45 on 15 March.
|Premier London League|
The race for the Premier League Golden Boot
Luis Suarez (Liverpool) 23
Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) 18
Sergio Aguero (Man City) 15
Yaya Toure (Man City) 13
Eden Hazard 12
Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) 12
Loic Remy (Newcastle) 12
The race for the Premier League Golden Glove
Petr Cech 12
Wojciech Szczesny (Arsenal) 12
Hugo Lloris (Tottenham) 11
John Ruddy (Norwich) 10
Artur Boruc (Southampton) 9
Tim Howard (Everton) 9
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Everton v West Ham 3pm
Fulham v Chelsea 3pm
Hull v Newcastle 3pm
Stoke v Arsenal 3pm
Southampton v Liverpool 5.30pm - Sky Sports
Aston Villa v Norwich 4.30pm - Sky Sports
Swansea v Crystal Palace 4.30pm
Tottenham v Cardiff 4.30pm
The Manchester United versus Manchester City and Sunderland versus West Bromwich Albion games are postponed because of the Capital One Cup final.
|Barclays Premier League table - top eight|
Seven points separate the bottom nine clubs.
Click on tabs above for more briefing.
Deep-lying midfielder Nemanja Matic and winger Mohamed Salah return to the fold after their ineligibility in midweek. Jose Mourinho will hope David Luiz has recovered fully from the knock that prevented his participation in the last two games.
With the adjudication of the dubious goals committee in his favour, Frank Lampard's tally - and Chelsea's goalscoring record - rose to 210. His goal against Everton was also the 250th of his club career (including 39 for West Ham, and one at Swansea). Frank is now 'evens' with the dubious goals committee having lost one to a Dominic Matteo goal in 2003. The midfielder has scored nine times against our closest neighbours and played 80 minutes against them in September.
Throughout new Fulham boss Felix Magath's managerial career at Stuttgart, Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayern, Wolfsburg and Schalke the emphasis has been on discipline, mental conditioning, fitness and an overriding will to win. Tactically he is pragmatic and astute enough to adapt his approach according to the personnel available.
In four Champions League meetings with Chelsea between 2003 and 2005 with Stuttgart and Bayern, he fielded the same diamond midfield in home games but used 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-1-2 at the Bridge. His record against the Blues comprises two defeats, one win, one draw.
In Magath's first match at the Hawthorns, Fulham were more aggressive than in some recent outings and channelled long balls towards Hugo Rodallega, playing as centre-forward and looking to run behind the defence, or Ashkan Dejagah on the right upfront. When they were not caught offside, they managed to create chances from the flanks and the Iranian, brought in from Wolfsburg, scored their goal.
Fulham pressed for the ball more than previously this season, when they were inclined to sit back. The problem is that this early in his stay the German has been unable to eliminate the individual errors and fatigue-induced fade that has characterised much of their season. It remains to be seen how the sudden step-up in physical training will affect the Whites squad this week.
Magath has announced that recently signed striker Kostas Mitroglou is not ready for this game.
Fulham played a 4-4-1-1 against the Baggies (as Martin Jol did at the Bridge) with skilful attacking midfielder Lewis Holtby behind Rodallega. The middle two was made up of former Chelsea boys Scott Parker and Steve Sidwell (pictured below), and they will have their work cut out tracking whoever plays in the Blues' three advanced midfielders. Oscar may return to the starting line-up having played only a small part in midweek.
Johnny Heitinga has been brought in to partner Brede Hangeland in a thirtysomething central defence against whom the Blues will hope to create plenty of chances. Fulham have shipped goals up to now, many of them from close range. Both our goals in the 2-0 home win earlier this season came from outcompeting the Whites in their own area.
Fernando Torres's wonderfully worked goal in Istanbul was his third in two Champions League starts. Mourinho has to decide whether to opt for the Spaniard's power against a physical back line, or the stealth and link play of Samuel Eto'o.
WE HAVE HISTORY
Chelsea are looking to extend our unbeaten run against Fulham to 17 games since our last defeat in March 2006 by Luis Boa Morte's only goal.
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 24th season that Chelsea and Fulham have been in the top flight together.
On 29 October 1966 Craven Cottage hosted its biggest crowd for seven years for the visit of Tommy Docherty's table-topping Chelsea: 43,259. It was a game the confirmed the Blues' title credentials and also brought the best from £100,000-man Tony Hateley, playing his second match in four days since arriving at the Bridge.
This was the usual keenly-contested west London derby for most of the first half, until fewer than 10 minutes remained and Johnny Boyle crossed from the left with the aim of finding the head of Hateley.
The Chelsea no.9 challenged Jack McLelland for the ball and left the Whites' goalkeeper writhing, winded, in the box. The fact McLelland had clung on to the ball would prove disastrous: referee Ken Burns ordered a drop-ball close to the Fulham goal and Hateley reacted quickest to sweep in the opener.
Peter Bonetti had made a couple of fine saves from Allan 'Sniffer' Clarke but all the hard work by Vic Buckingham's side over the first 35 minutes was further undone when Hateley doubled Chelsea's lead soon after the break.
Blues midfielder John Hollins was felled by full-back Brian Nichols and whipped the resulting free-kick into the area. Hateley, leaping high and powerfully, thundered his header past McLelland (pictured below). It was a finish worthy of Tommy Lawton, his illustrious predecessor at the Bridge.
Chelsea's eager, overlapping football might have overwhelmed the hosts but they responded well, left winger Les Barrett volleying in five minutes after Hateley's header. Any flicker of a comeback was finally extinguished in the 78th minute when Boyle, playing on the flank, eased past England full-back George Cohen to finish off a delightful chipped pass from Charlie Cooke.
The 3-1 win kept Chelsea a point clear of Stoke at the top of the table but shunted the Cottagers down to 21st of the 22 teams.
Our last 10 league meetings at Craven Cottage
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
2012/13 - Chelsea won 3-0
Chelsea v Fulham in all competitions
Games played 79
Chelsea wins 44
Fulham wins 9
Head to head in the league at Craven Cottage and Loftus Road
Games played 34
Chelsea wins 20
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
Chelsea lost to Fulham: 2,904
Fulham kept a clean sheet in the Premier League: 83
Arsenal won a trophy: 3,206
Liverpool won the league: 8,701
The Blues are seeking to extend our unbeaten league record to 13 games since our last defeat at Stoke on 7 December.
Chelsea have the tightest defence in the Premier League, conceding only 21 goals in 27 games including 12 clean sheets. We have also conceded the fewest away - 12 goals in 13 games.
Since the November international break, the Blues have won 39 points from a possible 48, more than any other club.
Chelsea have gained 14 points from losing positions this season, still the best record in the Premier League.
The Blues have won 14 and drawn two of the 17 league games we have opened the scoring.
The Blues are 10 points up compared with the corresponding 27 fixtures last season.
We have kept 10 clean sheets and conceded just six goals in our last 15 games in all competitions.
We have won 22 points from a possible 39 away from Stamford Bridge this term.
|Last six results|
|Manchester City (a)||W 1-0|
|Feb 8||Newcastle (h)||W 3-0|
|Feb 11||West Brom (a)||D 1-1|
|Feb 15||Manchester City (FA Cup a)||L 0-2|
|Feb 22||Everton (h)||W 1-0|
|Feb 26||Galatasaray (Champions League a)||D 1-1|
League games since
An away win: 1
An away draw: 0
An away defeat: 5
|Chelsea's next three games|
|Sat 8 Mar||Tottenham home||5.30pm|
|Sat 15 Mar||Aston Villa away||5.30pm|
|Tue 18 Mar||Galatasaray (Champions League) home||7.45pm|
Samuel Eto'o's next goal will be the 300th of his club career (Leganes 4, Real Mallorca 68, Barcelona 130, Inter Milan 53, Anzhi Makhachkala 36, Chelsea 8).
Frank Lampard's next converted penalty will be his 50th for the Blues.
If selected, Lampard will play his 573rd career Premier League match and move ahead of David James as second all-time Premier League appearance maker behind Ryan Giggs (629). It will also be his 400th Premier League start for Chelsea.
If selected, Eden Hazard will make his 100th appearance for the Blues.
Our next goal will bring up our half century in the Barclays Premier League this term.
Congratulations to Josh McEachran, currently on loan at Wigan, who celebrates his 21st birthday tomorrow (Saturday).
Eighteen 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 being champions of the Second and First Divisions. The Cottagers have never won a major trophy.
Fulham are in their 13th successive season in the Premier League which is the longest spell they have ever spent in the top flight.
The Cottagers are seeking their first league win since 1 January. They have lost five and drawn two of their seven matches since then.
They have won three of the eight games they have scored the opening goal although they have gained 10 points from losing positions. Only Chelsea and Man United can boast a better record.
Fulham have conceded 59 goals in 27 league games, 11 more than any other club.
The Cottagers have not kept a clean sheet in their last 12 Premier League matches.
Fulham have won 10 points from a possible 39 at Craven Cottage this term. Their three wins were against Stoke, Aston Villa and West Ham, one draw with West Brom and nine defeats to Arsenal, Cardiff, Man Utd, Swansea, Tottenham, Man City, Sunderland, Southampton and Liverpool.
Manager Felix Magath
Days in charge: 15
|Fulham's last 10 year league history|
|Last six results|
|Swansea (a)||L 0-2|
|Feb 1||Southampton (h)||L 0-3|
|Feb 4||Sheffield United (FA Cup h)||L 0-1|
|Feb 9||Manchester United (a)||D 2-2|
|Feb 12||Liverpool (h)||L 2-3|
|Feb 22||West Brom (a)||D 1-1|
Premier League scorers (27)
Sidwell 6, Berbatov 4 (1 pen), Bent 3, Kasami 3, Dejagah 2, Parker 2, Richardson 2, own goals 2, Kacaniklic 1, Ruiz 1, Senderos 1.
League games since
A home win: 3
A home draw: 11
A home defeat: 0
Fulham's completed January transfers
Ins Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders, loan), William Kvist (VfB Stuttgart, loan), Lewis Holtby (Tottenham Hotspur, loan), Konstantinos Mitroglou (Olympiakos, £11m), John Heitinga (Everton, free), Ryan Tunnicliffe (Manchester United, undisclosed), Larnell Cole (Manchester United, undisclosed)
Outs Bryan Ruiz (PSV Eindhoven, loan), Aaron Hughes (QPR, loan), Philippe Senderos (Valencia, undisclosed), Dimitar Berbatov (Monaco, undisclosed), Stephen Arthurworrey (Tranmere Rovers, loan), Marcus Bettinelli (Accrington Stanley, loan), Jack Grimmer (Port Vale, loan)
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Mark Clattenburg is refereeing his third Chelsea match since December. He was the official for our away win at Hull in January and home victory against Crystal Palace before Christmas.
There are no suspensions.
A stunning Andre Schurrle hat-trick helped the Blues preserve our position at the top of the Premier League table as we ran out 3-1 winners at Craven Cottage.
Schurrle scored three times in the space of 16 minutes at the beginning of the second half to put us in control of the contest, and though Johnny Heitinga replied for the hosts, we were able to see the game out comfortably.
An even first half had produced little in the way of goalscoring opportunities at either end, with Fernando Torres seeing the best of ours well saved by Maarten Stekelenburg just before the break.
An improvement in the second half, with our attacking players able to influence the game, provided a platform for our quality to shine through, and Schurrle's first hat-trick for the club ultimately proved the difference between the sides.
With no midweek fixture, we can now look forward to another London derby, this time against Tottenham Hotspur, at Stamford Bridge next Saturday.
Jose Mourinho made just two changes from the side which drew at Galatasaray in midweek, with Nemanja Matic and Oscar coming in for Frank Lampard and Willian respectively. Matic , who was ineligible for the game in Istanbul, partnered Ramires as the two deep-lying midfielders, while Oscar was tasked with operating in a central position in behind Fernando Torres, with Schurrle and Eden Hazard, who was making his 100th appearance for the club, providing the width. Having missed the last two matches through injury, David Luiz was named as one of the Chelsea substitutes.
The home side named two former Blues in their starting line-up, Scott Parker and Steve Sidwell patrolling the central midfield area in a 4-4-2 for Fulham.
Fulham manager Felix Magath had spoken in the build-up to the game about how he hoped his side could take advantage of the fact we'd travelled to Istanbul in midweek, and it was the hosts who threatened first inside the opening couple of minutes.
Kieran Richardson released the overlapping Pajtim Kasami, whose cross was a dangerous one, but Clint Dempsey was unable to register a proper connection and his header sailed well wide.
The Blues, in truth, had started slowly, with only a wayward Schurrle free-kick to show for our early efforts, but we almost took the lead when Torres charged down a Maarten Stekelenburg clearance and, as the ball came down the striker's effort was diverted wide by the goalkeeper.
As the 20-minute mark approached neither side will have been particularly satisfied with the manner in which they'd started the game, with John Terry urging our attacking players to move the ball faster in the final third.
The home side were forced into an early change when Brede Hangeland was forced off following an aerial collision with Richardson, the skipper replaced by Dan Burn, and soon after they launched a dangerous counter attack, through Richardson, which required a timely intervention by Cesar Azpilicueta to deny Dempsey at the far post.
A clever interchange between Hazard and Ramires saw the Brazilian curl a decent left-footed strike just over the top of Stekelenburg's bar as we attempted to inject some urgency into our attacking play.
At the other end, meanwhile, Gary Cahill displayed great awareness to take the ball away from the foot of Dempsey as the Fulham attacker attempted to latch on to a Parker pass inside the six-yard box.
Petr Cech was called into action five minutes before the break when he saved well low down from a powerful Kasami free-kick, getting a strong enough hand behind the drive to ensure there was no rebound for the home side to profit from.
It was Fulham looking the more likely as half-time approached, and we breathed a collective sigh of relief when Sidwell fired inches over the bar after Dempsey's flick had fallen kindly for the midfielder.
The Blues, however, were equally eager to steal an advantage prior to the break, and it almost came when Torres saw a brilliant strike from an angle tipped over the bar by Stekelenburg.
The second half opened with the Blues on the front foot, and a decent chance went begging when Schurrle opted to shoot rather than slip in the unmarked Oscar, his strike deflected behind for a corner.
Moments later, however, the breakthrough came, and it was a goal of the highest quality.
Hazard picked the ball up midway inside the Fulham half and released Schurrle with a delightful reverse pass; the German showed great pace to ease away from Burn, intelligently got across the defender with one touch and drilled his strike beyond Stekelenburg.
The opener was the perfect way to start the half and, whatever Mourinho had said to his players during the half-time interval, appeared to have had the desired effect.
The goal sparked the Blues into life, with Hazard and Oscar beginning to look a real threat. We should have extended our lead minutes later when the Belgian adjusted his footing and produced a stunning cross, only for Torres's header to skim off the head of Burn and go behind.
It was all Chelsea by this stage, and it wasn't long before our lead was doubled, with the same combination proving decisive.
Hazard pounced on a loose ball deep inside Fulham territory, the defenders backed off, allowing the winger to slide the ball into the path of Schurrle who calmly slotted his left-footed strike into the far corner.
After a fairly uninspiring first half we'd taken complete control of the contest, and better was to come three minutes later as Schurrle completed a remarkable hat-trick.
Once again we capitalised on a breakdown in Fulham play and as the ball was worked inside to Torres, he picked out the run of the 23-year-old with a brilliant pass; Schurrle took a touch to steady himself and fired confidently into the bottom corner to cap an unbelievable 16 minutes.
With Mourinho's men seemingly in total control, however, the home side ensured there was still work to be done when they pulled a goal back. The corner was delivered from wide on the left and as we failed to clear our lines, Johnny Heitinga was left with the simplest of finishes from close range.
The manager gave the travelling Chelsea fans the opportunity to show their appreciation for the hat-trick hero as the game edged towards its conclusion, with David Luiz replacing Schurrle.
There were a couple of chances to add to our tally late on, with Ramires first seeing a strike saved by Stekelenburg before firing over the bar after Ba had been denied.
As the final whistle sounded, though, the Chelsea fans packed in behind the goal where all three goals were scored celebrated wildly, safe in the knowledge a difficult hurdle had been overcome.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (c), Azpilicueta; Ramires, Matic; Schurrle (David Luiz 86), Oscar (Mikel 77), Hazard; Torres (Ba 81).
Unused substitutes: Schwarzer, Cole, Lampard, Willian.
Scorer Schurrle 51, 64 and 68
Booked Ramires 50
Fulham (4-4-2): Stekelenburg; Riether, Heitinga, Hangeland (c) (Burn 15), Richardson; Dejagah, Parker (Karagounis 79), Sidwell, Kasami (Holtby 61); Bent, Dempsey
Unused substitutes: Stockdale, Riise, Kvist, Rodallega.
Scorer Heitinga 73
Booked Dejagah 35, Kasami 47
Referee Mark Clattenburg