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Chelsea v Fulham


Both sides need to return to winning ways. We look at the factors that will decide which way the game may go.

Key battles
Both teams saw key players move on in the summer, but while Chelsea countered the departures of Didier Drogba et al with the signature of keen attacking midfielders, Fulham replaced Clint Dempsey (a regular thorn in Chelsea's side) with a more efficient marksman who fills the same deep-lying position, Dimitar Berbatov (pictured below). Berbatov plays behind another successful signing, striker Mladen Petric.

Berbatov and Mikel

Rafael Benítez's pairing of Branislav Ivanovic and David Luiz at centre-back was a success against City's stellar attack, but Fulham have stealth too. The Serbia-Brazil axis was helped by César Azpilicueta's growing confidence at right back, and the manager may elect to stick with that four despite Gary Cahill's recovery from fever.

Benítez, who will be aware of the need to rest some players ahead of an enormously busy schedule, may re-examine his central midfield to press more effectively and quicken the attacking momentum, possibly with the reintroduction of Oriol Romeu. In any case, at previous clubs the manager earned a reputation for changing his starting line-ups.

Jol complained that his players allowed Stoke to 'bully' them - Chelsea have shown less capacity to do that in the last few matches than has been the case in previous seasons.

The Fulham manager likes to play offensively from midfield and even down to 10 men during the home defeat by Sunderland he made positive substitutions and the Mackems' Simon Mignolet was the busier keeper.

The Whites' summer signings Hugo Rodallega and Giorgos Karagounis, 35, have yet to stamp their authority and Jol also has a problem at the back. One of the foundations of the side he inherited was the solid, seasoned central defensive partnership of Aaron Hughes and captain Brede Hangeland.

Hangeland's suspension necessitates a change and Benítez must hope that Fernando Torres, who has not managed a shot on target in his last three outings, can regain the venom of early season.

Squad fitness news
Frank Lampard (calf), John Terry (knee) and Daniel Sturridge (hamstring remain out). Fulham's injury problems are three hamstrings - Alex Kacaniklic, Bryan Ruiz and Kieran Richardson - and Simon Davies (hip).

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Chelsea have used 19 players in the Barclays Premier League this term, fewer than any other club.

The Blues are eight points better off after 13 games compared to the corresponding games last season. A win tonight will increase that to 10.

Chelsea have not lost when we have opened the scoring (six wins, two draws)

Chelsea have won just three points from the last 15 available.

Man City was our first clean sheet in the league since Stoke in September. Only the Potters (six) have kept more shut-outs than Chelsea's five.

We have won 18 of our 26 matches at Stamford Bridge in 2012. The two defeats were against Newcastle and Man Utd.

Last six results
Nov 3 Swansea (a) D 1-1
Nov 7 Shakhtar Donetsk (Champions League h) W 3-2
Nov 11 Liverpool (h) D 1-1
Nov 17 West Brom (a) L 1-2
Nov 20 Juventus (Champions League a) L 0-3
Nov 25 Manchester City (a) D 0-0


Premier League scorers
Mata 4, Torres 4, Hazard 3 (1 pen), Ivanovic 3, Lampard 3 (2 pens), Cahill 2, Cole 1, Moses 1, Ramires 1, Sturridge 1, Terry 1. Total 24

League games since
A home win: 3
A home draw: 0
A home defeat: 2

Chelsea's next three games
Sat 1 Dec   West Ham away 12.45pm
Wed 5 Dec Nordsjaelland (Champions League) home 7.45pm
Sat 8 Dec Sunderland away 3pm


We need two more goals for the half century for the season. Today is our 23rd match.

Formed 1879

Sixteen 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 12th successive season in the Premier League which is the longest spell they have ever spent in the top flight.

Fulham have not won in five matches and only once in the last eight.

Only Manchester United (32) have scored more goals than Fulham's 25.

Fulham have lost 14 points from winning positions.

Fulham have won six points from a possible 21 on the road - winning at Wigan with defeats in their first two away games at Manchester United and West Ham and at Stoke on Saturday.

They have failed to win any of the games their opponents opened the scoring.

Manager Martin Jol
Days in charge: 540
Played 69
Won 26
Drawn 19
Lost 24

Fulham's last 10 year league history
Pts Pos
2002/03 48 14th
2003/04 52 9th
2004/05 44 13th
2005/06 48 12th
2006/07 39 16th
2007/08 36 17th
2008/09 53 7th
2009/10 46 12th
2010/11 49 8th
2011/12 52 9th


Last six results
Oct 20 Aston Villa (h) W 1-0
Oct 27 Reading (a) D 3-3
Nov 3 Everton (h) D 2-2
Nov 10 Arsenal (a) D 3-3
Nov 18 Sunderland (h) L 1-3
Nov 24 Stoke (a) L 0-1

Premier League scorers
Berbatov 5 (2 pens), Petrić 4 (1 pen), Duff 3, Sidwell 3 (1 pen), Baird 2, Kačaniklić 2, Ruiz 2, own goals 2, Richardson 1, Rodallega 1. Total 25




League games since
An away win: 4
An away draw: 1
An away defeat: 0

Dimitar Berbatov (Man Utd, £4m), Kieran Richardson (Sunderland, £2m), Hugo Rodallega (Wigan, free), Mladen Petric (Hamburg, free), Sascha Riether (Cologne, loan), Giorgios Karagounis (Panathinaikos, free), Ashkan Dejagah (Wolfsburg, undisclosed)
Outs Moussa Dembélé (Tottenham, £15m), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham, £6m), Danny Murphy (Blackburn, free), Andy Johnson (QPR, free), Dickson Etuhu (Blackburn, undisclosed), Orlando Sa (Limassol, free), Bjorn Helge Riise (Lillestrom, free), Marcel Gecov (KAA Gent, undisclosed), David Stockdale (Hull, loan)

Anthony Taylor is making his second visit to the Bridge this season. He was the referee during our 4-1 win against Norwich in October.

Fulham captain Brede Hangeland is suspended.

David Luiz and Ramires are one yellow card away from a one-match domestic suspension. They are both currently on four bookings.

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