Chelsea Vs Fulham, A Preview
Fulham will seek to boost their survival hopes and dent Chelsea's title ambitions when the west London rivals clash on Saturday.
Felix Magath takes charge of a home fixture for the first time as Fulham manager when Barclays Premier League leaders Chelsea visit Craven Cottage this weekend, but the German faces a daunting task in arresting an alarming run of form.
Fulham have failed to win in the last seven league outings, a run that has left them rooted to the bottom of the table and four points adrift of safety. Magath came within four minutes of winning his first match in charge in last Saturday's visit to West Brom, only for Matej Vydra to spoil the welcome party by scoring a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw.
The evidence suggest Magath's second match in the Fulham dugout will be even trickier, with Fulham winning just one of the 25 Barclays Premier League matches against Chelsea, who have triumphed on 14 occasions.
A large part of Fulham's problems stem from a leaky defence, with their backline having conceded 59 times in the Barclays Premier League in 2013-14, more than any other side. By contrast, table-topping Chelsea have the sternest defence in the division, with Jose Mourinho's men shipping just 21 goals.
Chelsea have not tasted defeat in the Barclays Premier League since a 3-2 loss at Stoke at the start of December, a run that stretches 12 matches. The Blues are top of the table by a solitary point from second-placed Arsenal, but Chelsea needed a 93rd-minute goal from veteran midfielder Frank Lampard to defeat Everton last time out in the league.
Mourinho's team have had a quick turnaround in fixtures, having secured a 1-1 draw at Galatasaray in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday. But if the Portuguese's charges make a slow start, the visiting fans have no need to panic as Chelsea have recovered more points from losing positions than other side in the Barclays Premier League, collecting 14 when going behind.
Fulham are thought to have no fresh injury worries ahead of the match, while Chelsea are likely to once more be without David Luiz as the Brazilian centre-back has a muscle injury.
Fulham (from): Stekelenburg, Stockdale, Amorebieta, Burn, Hangeland, Heitinga, Riether, Riise, Boateng, Cole, Dejagah, Dempsey, Duff, Holtby, Kacaniklic, Karagounis, Kasami, Kvist, Parker, Richardson, Sidwell, Zverotic, Bent, Mitroglou, Rodallega, Tankovic.
Chelsea (from): Blackman, Cech, Hilario, Schwarzer, Ake, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Cole, Ivanovic, Terry, Hazard, Lampard, Matic, Mikel, Oscar, Ramires, Salah, Willian, Ba, Eto'o, Schurrle, Torres.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg. Assistants: D Cann, J Collin. Fourth Official: R East.