The first of four London derbies in March is the most local of them all. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton look just a little way west…
It is leaders versus bottom-feeders on Saturday, the biggest disparity between west London’s biggest clubs since 29 October 1966, when Fulham lay 19th and Chelsea were First Division leaders. The Whites have conceded more than two Premier League goals a game on average at Craven Cottage this season. However Chelsea have not won away since the memorable Manchester City league game on 3 February.
Felix Magath is the third manager in three months appointed by the new man at Fulham’s helm, US businessman Shahid Khan, who asked departing owner Mohamed Al Fayed to take his incongruous Michael Jackson statue with him.
Magath is attempting to build his own monument at the Cottage, to hard work. His old school army drilling and mind games might seem a little off the wall but he won’t stop ’til he gets enough from his squad.
The 60-year-old Bavarian saved a Frankfurt side in a more perilous position: 17 games to go, eight points from safety, they stayed up by two points with the third-best record in the Bundesliga over that period.
On arrival at the Cottage Magath targeted six victories from remaining fixtures at West Bromwich Albion, Cardiff, Manchester City, Aston Villa, Spurs and Stoke plus home games against Chelsea, Newcastle, Everton, Norwich, Hull and Crystal Palace.
However, he was instantly introduced to the Whites’ damaging habit of conceding late goals. The Throstles netted a late equaliser at the Hawthorns in what was ‘The Torturer’s’ first game in charge. ‘We have to play to win, not for the fans,’ Magath admitted. So the Whites’ run-in might not be such a thriller.
There is also the outside possibility of the Cottagers suffering a curse similar to that inflicted on Chelsea in 1973 when the old ‘Gatling Gun George’ Hilsdon weathervane was removed as part of the East Stand redevelopment. The Blues suffered a decade-and-a-half of financial difficulties and relegation until a replica was put up.
The Jacko tribute was removed on 25 September last year, four days after Fulham were vanquished 2-0 at Stamford Bridge. Ominously, they have lost 15 of 22 league games since the statue beat it.
Chelsea were the only English club to take anything from a Champions League match this week. The Blues’ first-half mastery of hosts Galatasaray was let down once more by the lack of a killer instinct. The Turks gained momentum and levelled the score, in similar fashion to West Bromwich Albion a few weeks ago.
That begs the question, does the team with the best attack or best defence generally prevail in the Premier League?
Chelsea have conceded just two league goals since the turn of the year and the fewest this season: 21. Man City and Arsenal have both let in 27, and Liverpool actually have the 10th best with 35. City have by far the best goal difference with 42, then Liverpool 35, Chelsea 28 and Arsenal 25.
Over the last five seasons goal difference has been a much more reliable trait of title winners – four of the five champions had the best ratio, including Chelsea with a mind-blowing 71 in 2010 (pictured below).
The best rearguard has twice been crown champions in that period: Man City with 29 in 2012 and Man United in 2009 (level with Chelsea on 24 conceded). The 15 league goals opposition sides managed to put past Blues goalkeepers in 2004/05 gets better with the passage of time.
After this weekend there are midweek internationals and Chelsea’s squad will be globetrotting as usual. England entertain Denmark at Wembley on Wednesday, the Czechs are at home, Egypt visit Bosnia and Serbia travel to Ireland. Our Brazilian contingent have a longer haul to South Africa. All that ahead of the Saturday evening visit of Tim Sherwood’s Tottenham.
The importance of gaining three points this Saturday and next, when Spurs are the visitors, is magnified by Manchester City not having a league match either weekend. City face Sunderland in the League Cup final on Sunday and a week later play an FA Cup quarter-final against Wigan.
The Mancunians’ involvement in both domestic cups could mean they are nine points behind the Blues by the time they visit Steve Bruce’s Hull City at 12.45 on 15 March.
The race for the Premier League Golden Boot
Luis Suarez (Liverpool) 23
Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) 18
Sergio Aguero (Man City) 15
Yaya Toure (Man City) 13
Eden Hazard 12
Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) 12
Loic Remy (Newcastle) 12
The race for the Premier League Golden Glove
Petr Cech 12
Wojciech Szczesny (Arsenal) 12
Hugo Lloris (Tottenham) 11
John Ruddy (Norwich) 10
Artur Boruc (Southampton) 9
Tim Howard (Everton) 9
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Everton v West Ham 3pm
Fulham v Chelsea 3pm
Hull v Newcastle 3pm
Stoke v Arsenal 3pm
Southampton v Liverpool 5.30pm – Sky Sports
Aston Villa v Norwich 4.30pm – Sky Sports
Swansea v Crystal Palace 4.30pm
Tottenham v Cardiff 4.30pm
The Manchester United versus Manchester City and Sunderland versus West Bromwich Albion games are postponed because of the Capital One Cup final.
Seven points separate the bottom nine clubs.
The Blues are seeking to extend our unbeaten league record to 13 games since our last defeat at Stoke on 7 December.
Chelsea have the tightest defence in the Premier League, conceding only 21 goals in 27 games including 12 clean sheets. We have also conceded the fewest away – 12 goals in 13 games.
Since the November international break, the Blues have won 39 points from a possible 48, more than any other club.
Chelsea have gained 14 points from losing positions this season, still the best record in the Premier League.
The Blues have won 14 and drawn two of the 17 league games we have opened the scoring.
The Blues are 10 points up compared with the corresponding 27 fixtures last season.
We have kept 10 clean sheets and conceded just six goals in our last 15 games in all competitions.
We have won 22 points from a possible 39 away from Stamford Bridge this term.
|Feb 3||Manchester City (a)||W 1-0|
|Feb 8||Newcastle (h)||W 3-0|
|Feb 11||West Brom (a)||D 1-1|
|Feb 15||Manchester City (FA Cup a)||L 0-2|
|Feb 22||Everton (h)||W 1-0|
|Feb 26||Galatasaray (Champions League a)||D 1-1|
Premier League scorers (49)
Hazard 12 (2 pens), Eto’o 6, Oscar 6, Lampard 5 (1 pen), Torres 4, Ivanovic 3, Schurrle 3, Terry 2, Willian 2, own goals 2, Ba 1, Cahill 1, Mikel 1, Ramires 1.
League games since
An away win: 1
An away draw: 0
An away defeat: 5
|Sat 8 Mar||Tottenham home||5.30pm|
|Sat 15 Mar||Aston Villa away||5.30pm|
|Tue 18 Mar||Galatasaray (Champions League) home||7.45pm|
Samuel Eto’o’s next goal will be the 300th of his club career (Leganes 4, Real Mallorca 68, Barcelona 130, Inter Milan 53, Anzhi Makhachkala 36, Chelsea 8).
Frank Lampard’s next converted penalty will be his 50th for the Blues.
If selected, Lampard will play his 573rd career Premier League match and move ahead of David James as second all-time Premier League appearance maker behind Ryan Giggs (629). It will also be his 400th Premier League start for Chelsea.
If selected, Eden Hazard will make his 100th appearance for the Blues.
Our next goal will bring up our half century in the Barclays Premier League this term.
Congratulations to Josh McEachran, currently on loan at Wigan, who celebrates his 21st birthday tomorrow (Saturday) and Samuel Eto’o who turns 33 on Monday.
Eighteen years ago at the end of the 1995/96 season Fulham were 17th in the Third Division (fourth tier) and in the next five seasons won three promotions, including being champions of the Second and First Divisions. The Cottagers have never won a major trophy.
Fulham are in their 13th successive season in the Premier League which is the longest spell they have ever spent in the top flight.
The Cottagers are seeking their first league win since 1 January. They have lost five and drawn two of their seven matches since then.
They have won three of the eight games they have scored the opening goal although they have gained 10 points from losing positions. Only Chelsea and Man United can boast a better record.
Fulham have conceded 59 goals in 27 league games, 11 more than any other club.
The Cottagers have not kept a clean sheet in their last 12 Premier League matches.
Fulham have won 10 points from a possible 39 at Craven Cottage this term. Their three wins were against Stoke, Aston Villa and West Ham, one draw with West Brom and nine defeats to Arsenal, Cardiff, Man Utd, Swansea, Tottenham, Man City, Sunderland, Southampton and Liverpool.
Manager Felix Magath
Days in charge: 15
|Jan 28||Swansea (a)||L 0-2|
|Feb 1||Southampton (h)||L 0-3|
|Feb 4||Sheffield United (FA Cup h)||L 0-1|
|Feb 9||Manchester United (a)||D 2-2|
|Feb 12||Liverpool (h)||L 2-3|
|Feb 22||West Brom (a)||D 1-1|
Premier League scorers (27)
Sidwell 6, Berbatov 4 (1 pen), Bent 3, Kasami 3, Dejagah 2, Parker 2, Richardson 2, own goals 2, Kacaniklic 1, Ruiz 1, Senderos 1.
League games since
A home win: 3
A home draw: 11
A home defeat: 0
Fulham’s completed January transfers
Ins Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders, loan), William Kvist (VfB Stuttgart, loan), Lewis Holtby (Tottenham Hotspur, loan), Konstantinos Mitroglou (Olympiakos, £11m), John Heitinga (Everton, free), Ryan Tunnicliffe (Manchester United, undisclosed), Larnell Cole (Manchester United, undisclosed)
Outs Bryan Ruiz (PSV Eindhoven, loan), Aaron Hughes (QPR, loan), Philippe Senderos (Valencia, undisclosed), Dimitar Berbatov (Monaco, undisclosed), Stephen Arthurworrey (Tranmere Rovers, loan), Marcus Bettinelli (Accrington Stanley, loan), Jack Grimmer (Port Vale, loan)
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Mark Clattenburg is refereeing his third Chelsea match since December. He was the official for our away win at Hull in January and home victory against Crystal Palace before Christmas.
There are no suspensions.
Visit again tomorrow for Part Two of the Briefing.