Fulham v Chelsea, Mon 20:00
Although the sides might be strides apart in terms of league position, a Monday night West London derby between Fulham and Chelsea is likely to present more of a spectacle to the fans than it might have done in recent seasons, as Bet365 offer long odds on Martin Jol’sside to take all three points at home.
The two teams are in very similar runs of form, both winning three of their last six fixtures, however the visiting Chelsea just about edge the confidence race with just two losses compared to Fulham’s three.
With Pavel Pogrebnyak out due to a knock to his ankle, Clint Dempsey took up the main attacking duties over the weekend; a solid decision considering the USA international managed to net a brace in the 3-0 victory over Bolton.
Martin Jol recently admitted that ‘Death From Above’ is unlikely to return from injury in time for Monday’s match and with Andy Johnson also out for the Easter period, it’s looking likely that Dempsey will take up a similar position against the Blues as he looks to continue what has already been a magnificent season.
The Cottagers have only failed to score in 19% of their home fixtures this season but Chelsea are likely to pose even more of a threat on Monday than they would at Stamford Bridge, boasting one of the best away defence in the Premier League this campaign.
Roberto Di Matteo’s men have conceded an average of just 1.06 goals per game in unfamiliar territory this season and will be hoping to build on their Saturday win over Wigan.
Club favourites Frank Lampard and John Terry are both struggling to regain fitness ahead of Monday’s game but will be vital additions for Di Matteo in what promises to be a tough trip over to Craven Cottage.
These two sides drew 1-1 in the reverse fixture in December but Chelsea just about manage to hold a 2011-12 advantage over their local rivals after booting Fulham out of the Carling Cup via penalties following a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea undoubtedly hold a more dominant record in this fixture over the last decade but Monday’s hosts will sense a chance to pull the record back this week in will be one of their better chances to beat their West London rivals in recent history.
Martin Jol will have to make do without American Bryan Ruiz who has a suspected broken foot, midfielder Danny Murphy has an illness while Pavel Pogrebnyak should be fit after overcoming an ankle knock.
Andy Johnson once again misses out with a slight thigh strain.
The Blues will take another look at the ‘Big Three’ John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole, who all missed the narrow win over Wigan last week, and its clear that their absence affected the spine of the team.