Chelsea will be hoping to put the disappointment of Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final defeat behind them as the quest for a Champions League spot goes on. They make the short trip to Craven Cottage for their penultimate London derby against Fulham.

Tonight’s Premier League encounter is our game-in-hand over Champions League rivals, Tottenham. And combined with Sunday’s disappointment and Arsenal and Everton’s 0-0 draw, a win tonight is an absolute must.

But it won’t be an easy three points despite Chelsea’s impressive record against their neighbours. The Blues have won 13 of the 22 meetings between the two whereas Fulham have only won once. But it hasn’t been plain sailing recently. Four of the eight draws have come in each of the last four matches. There hasn’t been a victor in this fixture in Chelsea beat Fulham 1-0 in November 2010. But another defeat for The Blues tonight would not only dent our Champions League hopes, it would also inflict a third consecutive defeat for the first time since May and August 2006 (when, having won the league we lost our last two games of the season and the Community Shield against Liverpool).

Team News
Rafa Benitez confirmed that Gary Cahill and Ashley Cole are not ready to return from injury. And Marko Marin has had a small injury in his thigh but has been training. After not featuring on Sunday, John Terry and Frank Lampard are likely to return to the starting line-up. And after a run of recent form, and impressing when he came on against Manchester City, Fernando Torres will be hoping he will be re-called as well.

The Stats
If selected, Frank Lampard will make his 600th Chelsea appearance.
There hasn’t been a win in this fixture since November 2010 and Chelsea’s last win at Craven Cottage came at the start of the title winning 2009/2010 season – goals from Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka.
Fulham’s only win against Chelsea came at Craven Cottage in 2006. A single Luis Boa Morte goal secured victory.
Chelsea have scored 1.7 goals per game against Fulham, Fulham have 0.9.

It’s Rafa’s birthday. I think I speak for everyone when I say that the fans should get a present from him. It’s the least we deserve.

Jonathan Davies @JonathanCDavies

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