Who: Chelsea vs. Fulham
What: English Premier League, Week 14
Where: Stamford Bridge, London, England
When: Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Weather: The Weather Channel forecast
Time: 19:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET/11:45 a.m. PT
Television: Fox Soccer Channel, FOX Deportes (USA)
Worldwide Live Streams and TV Channels: LiveSoccerTV.com
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Decimal Odds: Chelsea 1.44, Fulham 6.25, Draw 4.60
Decimal Total: Over 2.5 1.55, Under 2.5 2.30
Fractional Odds: Chelsea 11/25, Fulham 21/4, Draw 18/5
Fractional Total: Over 2.5 11/20, Under 2.5 13/10
Source: sportsbook.com (Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles)
Chelsea will be looking for its first English Premier League win since October 20 when it hosts Fulham in the West London derby on Wednesday.
The good news for the Blues is that the Cottagers have just one victory in this derby over the last 32 years. The bad news is that wins for the defending European champions have been few and far between these last five weeks.
Despite the lopsided trend in this series, 10th-place Fulham (4-4-5, 25 goals for, 23 goals against) will be no pushover for Chelsea, which has struggled lately on offense, scoring just two goals in its last four matches in all competitions.
Cottagers manager Martin Jol has received balanced scoring from his team with Dimitar Berbatov (five goals), Mladen Petric (four), Steve Sidwell, (three) Damien Duff (three) and Bryan Ruiz (five assists) all helping Fulham try to forget the summer loss of Clint Dempsey.
Goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer has started every league game for the Cottagers, who are currently in the midst of a five-game winless streak (0-3-2) in which they have been outscored 12-9.
Fulham has just one road win to date (at Wigan Athletic) and is just 1-3-3 away from Craven Cottage heading into this mid-week contest.
After sitting atop the EPL table for most of the early season, Chelsea (7-4-2, 25 points) now finds itself sitting in fourth place after earning only three points out of a possible 15 in its last five league games.
At home at Stamford Bridge, the Blues are 3-2-1 (10 goals for, six against) and hope to give new manager Rafa Benítez his first win since taking over for Roberto Di Matteo a week ago.
On Sunday, Chelsea’s defense played very well against defending league champions Manchester City in a 0-0 draw. Blues goalkeeper Petr Čech registered his first clean sheet in his last 11 starts, but the club created few real chances on the offensive end.
Chelsea is 5-5-0 in their last 10 games against Fulham, outscoring its not so noisy neighbors 14-7 in the process, but the last three meetings have all been low-scoring draws (1-1, 1-1, 0-0).
Benítez and Chelsea are still waiting for Frank Lampard (calf) and Daniel Sturridge (hamstring) to return to 100 percent, and their availability for Wednesday’s game is still a big question mark.
On defense, the Blues will need to concentrate on containing the crafty Berbatov—who has flourished for the Cottagers since coming over from Manchester United in the summer—while on offense the club desperately needs its attack force of Juan Mata, Oscar, Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres to quickly find its groove.
This match may play out like the last four low-scoring meetings, but Chelsea should find a way to get Benítez his first win as Blues manager and restore a little much-needed confidence to the scuffling club.
The game will be the Blues' second of four in a grueling 11-day stretch.
Chelsea will pay a visit to Upton Park on Saturday to face eighth-place West Ham United (ESPN2, 7:30 a.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT) before hosting Danish Superliga champs FC Nordsjælland on December 5 in a must-win game in their UEFA Champions League group.
But first, a win against Fulham on Wednesday would do wonders for the team's collective heads.
BET: Under 3 -115
PREDICTION: Chelsea 1 Fulham 0
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