Fulham face London rivals, Cheslea, in the Barclays Premier League at Craven Cottage on the evening of Monday 14th February 2011.
Chelsea, the holding Premier League Champions, are looking for a win to reclaim fourth place from Tottenham Hotspur, who overtook them on Saturday with a win over Sunderland. Chelsea need all three points to catch Spurs, however.
Fulham will be hoping to continue their recent improved form, which has seen them open up a gap – albeit a narrow one – of three points between them and the relegation places.
Fulham will have to play without Etuhu, who has a hamstring injury, Kakuta, who is ineligable as he is on loan from Chelsea and Senderos, who has an achilles injury. Bobby Zamora, who has been a long-term absentee following his broken leg, has been playing reserve team football, but is not yet ready to make the step up to first team action for this match: he will also miss out.
Chelsea will be without injured trio Alex, Benayoun and Zhirkov, though Boswinga may also miss out.
Fernando Torres, Chelsea’s £50 million signing, Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka are all fit, so it will be interesting to see which forward formation coach Carlo Ancelotti opts for this evening. New defensive signing – David Luiz – is going to start, however, presumably alongside John Terry: a highly valuable central defensive pairing; one side-story here will be how these two gel together.
Fulham have won their last three league home matches without conceeding, while Chelsea have found it a little difficult to score of late – since Drogba’s bout of maleria, they have not looked as prolific as earlier in the season. While the signs would point to a tight affair, Chelsea are a high quality outfit, who’s attacking players are all due a few goals – much will depend upon the hosts’ ability to keep Chelsea out in the opening 45 minutes.
If Chelsea have any league title aspirations remaining this season, they need to win this – and probably every other – league match.
This West London Valentine’s Day meeting could well be crucial to either side’s future prospects.
Fulham v Chelsea kicks off at 20:00 GMT (21:00 CET) at Craven Cottage, Fulham, and will be refereed by Mike Dean.