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Fulham face Chelsea - Match Preview

last updated Saturday 27th December 2008, 2:50 PM


Water-tight Fulham welcome Chelsea to Craven Cottage for a derby which seldom fails to entertain.

The Cottagers earned their eighth clean sheet in the Premier League this season with a goalless draw at Tottenham on Boxing Day to leave manager Roy Hodgson delighted with their defensive stability.

Team Fulham Chelsea
Games Played 18 19
Goal Attempts
Goals 16 38
Ave Goals per game 0.89 2.00
Shots (excl blocked shots) 182 280
% Shots on Target 44% 46%
% Goals to Shots 9% 14%
Short Passes 6357 9355
Long Passes 1110 1110
Overall Pass Completion % 76% 85%
Total Crosses 421 468
Cross Completion % 23% 26%
Goals Conceded 12 7
Ave goals conceded per game 0.67 0.37
Tackles 400 407
Tackles Won % 71% 75%
Blocks, Clearances & Interceptions 1149 806
Fouls 214 238
Yellow Cards 17 27
Red Cards 1 2

"The players are working very hard in their defensive duties," he enthused after seeing his side consolidate their eighth place in the table.

The point was also secured without defensive lynchpin Brede Hangeland, who missed the trip to White Hart Lane with a bout of flu.

The Norway international could return on Sunday with Hodgson happy to wait until the 11th hour to assess his condition.

Elsewhere, midfielder Jimmy Bullard is a doubt with a dead leg picked up against Spurs, but Zoltan Gera (calf), Andranik Teymourian (knee) and Diomansy Kamara (knee) all remain sidelined.

Chelsea make the short trip across west London looking to keep the pressure on league leaders Liverpool.

Their 2-0 Boxing Day win over beleaguered West Bromwich Albion kept them just one point behind the Reds, but also ended a below-par run of home results which had seen them fail to win a domestic match at Stamford Bridge since November 1.

Didier Drogba made a welcome return to the goalscoring charts with a third minute opener against the Baggies, while Frank Lampard's 45th minute second completed a comfortable victory.

"It's lovely to have Didier coming back to form because he is an exceptional centre-forward that we love to have in the squad," said assistant first-team coach Ray Wilkins.

"We are thrilled when anybody gets back to full fitness and now the squad is becoming fuller than it has been this year.

"Ricardo Carvalho is nearing fitness as well and is another we can have the squad, so it's delightful to have so many top players to call upon."

But while Chelsea's home form has been a cause for concern, away from Stamford Bridge they are showing title-winning form.

They have won eight and drawn one of their away games in the league so far and would appear capable of coping without captain John Terry, who remains suspended.

Michael Essien (knee) and Carvalho (knee) are also both still unavailable to manager Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Source Sportbox.tv
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