There never can be a good time to visit Stamford Bridge. Fulham at Chelsea is one of those games I approach with a certain equanimity, a bit like away trips to Arsenal or Old Trafford - expecting zilch and then delighted if we nick the occasional point.
That doesn't happen too often at the Bridge, and wins there for the Whites are as rare as an intelligent insight from Alan Shearer. You don't need to be a bookie to know the odds are stacked against Fulham. When Spartak poked home a consolation last week late on in the CL tie it was the first home goal conceded by Cech in nearly 16 hours of football.
The Blues are currently on their longest run of shutouts at home in the Prem - eight straight. They've won five and drawn three of our last eight encounters. Add to that of course our own barren run of 23 games away without a win, and you'd have to think a miracle of biblical proportions will be needed on Wednesday night.
Having said that, recent games between us have been pretty close. Last Christmas we led for a long time through Gera's 4th minute goal and Chelsea's winner that day was a flukey OG off Smalling on his debut after Pantsil departed with a bad knee injury. For those with short memories Chelsea were booed off at half-time.
The previous season at home Clint scored twice in an all-action 2-2 draw and back in 2007 Baird nullified Drogba to the point of total frustration that saw the Ivorian sent off as we held them at their place to a 0-0 draw. It was another point for the Whites in 2006 - a 2-2 draw marked by our opener from Moritz Volz, the 15,000th goal in the Premiership incidentally that afternoon.
Main man Didier is of course the one to keep quiet if possible. He can energize the side and change any game when in the mood. He's scored in the last three games between us. Lampard luckily is missing, another who often scores against us. Still, there's no need to pinpoint individuals, the whole squad bristles with quality internationals.
Hughes himself has played in far bigger games than this. He'll know what to expect, and in truth our own squad all have the big match temperament, so there's no reason for the Whites to go out there and feel intimidated. I'm at a loss to understand how it all went so horribly wrong on Saturday against Villa, one reason for handing over to our 'guest' contributor.
Let's hope that acts as a wake-up call. With Salcido out I won't be in the least bit unhappy to see Pants restored to our back four. I hope he has a strong game. Two seasons great service, robbed of a place in the Europa Cup Final team by injury, and recently benched for two uncharacteristically poor games at the start of the season. He's done his penance.
As to how we shape up the midfield and front two to get amongst them, thank God that's Mark's problem, not mine. We basically have nothing to lose if we go gung-ho at them. Chelsea themselves have just turned in two sub-par performances in the league. That damned elusive away win has got to come sometime...
We'll take whatever result we get on the chin. With just 7 weeks till the end of the year the speculation is going to grow day by day as to player movements in the January window. Until then the only prediction I can make is the unpredictability of Fulham results between now and then. If we can get into January clear of the bottom six I'd take it.
COYW - it only happens once a year, so let's march up the Fulham Road and make some noise! Twitter@fulhamphil
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