Cottagers Chase Rare Win

Image courtesy of
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Fulham  host Chelsea  at Craven Cottage on Thursday morning (AEST) comfortably placed in the middle of the Premier League table and with little to play for in their remaining six fixtures. Their nine point advantage over 18th placed Wigan means that they are unlikely to be drawn into a relegation stoush but at the same time, they are too far behind the clubs ahead of them to be in contention for a place in Europe. Chelsea on the other hand are locked in a four way fight with Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton for the final two Champions League spots and can pull clear of fifth placed Spurs with a win against Martin Jol’s men.

The Cottagers go into this match without a win from their past two matches, having played out a draw  at Aston Villa last weekend and suffered a 1-0 reverse against Newcastle six days earlier. Steve Sidwell is unavailable as he completes the three game ban he picked up when sent off against QPR earlier this month, while Ashkan Dejagah will miss the rest of the season after suffering a serious ankle injury in the same match.

Rafael Benitez is likely to field a similar line-up to that which bowed out of the FA Cup with a 2-1 defeat to Manchester City on Sunday, with Gary Cahill and Ashley Cole still sidelined by injury. Demba Ba started up front there, giving his side a glimmer of hope with his 66th minute goal and is likely to continue up front at the expense of Spanish World Cup winner Fernando Torres, who hasn’t scored a league goal since before Christmas.

Chelsea was held to a 0-0 draw when Fulham visited Stamford Bridge earlier in the season, the fourth consecutive match between the clubs to end in a stalemate. The Blues have the wood over their London rivals however, having last tasted defeat against the Cottagers on March 19 2006. They will have to reverse a poor run of results away from home if they are too maintain their dominance of Fulham however, with the 2012 European Champions having lost three League matches in a row on the road.

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