How Chelsea Will Line Up Against Fulham in Premier League Derby

Rowanne WesthenryFeatured ColumnistFebruary 28, 2014

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 22:  Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Everton at Stamford Bridge on February 22, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

It’s top vs. bottom in the Premier League this weekend as Chelsea travel across the borough to rivals Fulham. The Cottagers are rooted to the bottom of the league and look almost certain to be relegated, but their intense rivalry with their noisy neighbours will make any complacency from Chelsea very dangerous indeed.

Frank Lampard spoke to the official Chelsea website ahead of the derby, saying:

If you look at Fulham, they're fighting for their lives so if we're not at it they'll get a result. It's a local derby and the fact they're struggling might make it more difficult for us because they're so desperate for points, maybe it would be better if they were in mid-table and cruising.

What we need to do is prepare; we can't moan, we've got a fantastic, big squad, fit young players and we have to get ready and go again. We just have to get our league hats on very quickly and we got them on as soon as we got in the dressing room after the Galatasaray game. We prepare now for Fulham and go there with a real desire to win the game

Jose Mourinho is unlikely to field a so-called "weak" team for this game, but there will almost certainly be some changes to the side that drew in Turkey on Wednesday.

COBHAM, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 05:  Ashley Cole of Chelsea plays a trick on Cesar Azpilicueta during a Chelsea training session on November 5, 2013 in Cobham, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

With Ashley Cole called up to the England squad for their friendly against Denmark next week, Branislav Ivanovic could be handed a rest to enable the left-back to start. Cesar Azpilicueta should move across to his natural right-back position after Mourinho’s comments that 11 of him could win the Champions League, as reported by Metro, with John Terry and Gary Cahill completing the back four.

Nemanja Matic will be available to start after missing the midweek match due to his cup-tied status. He will likely line up alongside Lampard, who was credited with the winning goal against Everton last week. The two should combine to produce a flexible holding-midfield pairing, with Matic providing cover for the defence and recycling possession while Lampard looks for space to exploit on the counter.

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - FEBRUARY 26:  A dejected Willian and Fernando Torres of Chelsea  look on after conceding the first goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between Galatasaray AS and Chelsea at Ali Sami Yen Arena on February 26
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Willian has been in exceptional form since settling in at Stamford Bridge, but he is beginning to look tired. Mohamed Salah, who was ineligible against Galatasaray, should start on the left of the attack to give the Brazilian a break.

Oscar is unlikely to be risked after picking up a knock against Everton, which should leave Andre Schurrle to start in the centre of the attack. The German linked up well with Fernando Torres in the Champions League and should keep his place for the trip to Fulham. Eden Hazard will complete the trio behind the striker, making his 100th Chelsea appearance in the process.

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - FEBRUARY 26:  Fernando Torres of Chelsea scores the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between Galatasaray AS and Chelsea at Ali Sami Yen Arena on February 26, 2014 in Istanbul, Turkey.  (Photo by
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Samuel Eto’o was reportedly very unhappy after the video of Mourinho bemoaning the lack of goalscorers in his Chelsea squad was released, according to a report by Sam Parker on Squawka.

Torres reacted to the video differently, and far better than many had expected. He gave the Blues a crucial away goal in the Champions League on Wednesday, and although he is currently not fit enough to play the full 90 minutes, per the official Chelsea website, he should start on Saturday.

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This lineup gives the right balance of fresh legs and players in good form. Fulham have lost 13 of their last 17 games at Craven Cottage, although their third manager in three months has a history of helping clubs to beat the drop. However, they are unlikely to get a reprieve against Chelsea, who will know that travelling back down the Fulham Road with anything less than a win will not be welcomed by their increasingly unhappy manager.