While it’s a home game, pretty much the last thing we need now is to be playing Chelsea.
Chelsea are, with Liverpool, joint top of the Premier League form guide, but in many ways are a tougher proposition because their strength is at the back. They have the stingiest defensive record in the league and for a team like Fulham that’s bad news.
I have mentioned it a number of times but one of our biggest issues has been maintaining any control in the middle of the pitch. Since Dembele and Diarra were playing together this has been sorely lacking, and we’re left with a sort of broken runaround approach that has been neither fish nor fowl. Meulensteen broke up Parker and Sidwell but Magath restored them at WBA, but that felt like a backwards step, particularly as Kvist seeemed to have settled in quite well.
Chelsea on the other hand managed quite a coup with the signing of Nemaja Matic, a player who instantly gave them presence in the middle of the pitch and who, I think will probably clinch the league for them. He’s a sort of arch-spoiler who can play, too. Fabulous player to compliment the underrated Ramires.
Can we find a way through them? Can we negate Oscar and Hazard? Can we get near Oscar and Hazard?
In many ways you can see why Magath has been thinking “direct”. Try to play in a game like this and we’ll be slaughtered. We’re going to have to reduce it to a rugby match, lower the overall standard, level the playing field. It might not be pretty but it’ll be a good yardstick as to how much Magath can do and what lengths he might go to. We match up awfully with Chelsea so anything other than a heavy defeat will be progress. But of course we need more than that, don’t we?
Check out this weekend’s football odds to see what we might expect. I’d be surprised if we caused a surprise.