First up, welcome once again to all our loyal supporters from overseas who make the effort and the financial sacrifice to attend these games. Will Nick the Swede be looking out for the moron who swung a punch at him on the walk back from the Bridge last October?
It's Valentines Day after all so here's hoping the rival fans can spread a little love, regardless of the result. Lobbing heart-shaped chocolate bonbons at each other we could just about tolerate, but no hard centres please. To continue the theme, a massacre on the night is unlikely to be headlines come Tuesday.
Why? At home Fulham's defence is back to its miserly best. Roy's fortress has been well and truly restored. The side are going for their 6th straight home win in 2011, with no goal conceded in our last three league home wins. In fact, against WBA, Stoke and Newcastle chances created by the opposition were all but non-existent, while the Cup win over Spurs was a stroll in the park.
This suggests the same-again back four sent out at Villa Park. Forget the aberration of Pantsil's oggies this campaign. Before being injured last season in our narrow loss at the Bridge (own goal that day too, Smalling the unfortunate son), John had Drogba in his pocket. Go back further. In 2007 Bairdinho did such a number on Didier at their place, the Ivorian's frustration boiled up and he got sent off.
Chelsea, and Drogba are in decline. The club conceded their title chances had gone after last week's home loss to Liverpool. Drogba's season has been blighted by malaria, an ever lurking curse for players from West Africa. It's a disease difficult to eradicate from the body, and leaves you drained, playing as if with a heavy cold. I saw George Weah struggle with it for half a season at PSG in the 90's - his magnificent physique rendered torpid as a tortoise.
Will Hughes be sweating under the duvet Sunday night trembling at the threat of Torres? Why should he? He's done nothing against us recently and failed utterly to raise a performance against his old club last week. He and Luiz are just two further megabuck signings to a squad of superstars. Both are still feeling their way into a side that has at times lost its way on the road this season. As for that vital ingredient from your 12th man - 'motivation' - I sense the hunger may not be there for this visit as it has been in recent years.
Enough of the opposition. Hughes won't under-estimate them. But Monday sees an opportunity for Fulham to get on the ball from the off and really dictate the game. We don't want to see an improvement after the interval, as at Villa last week. We need to go for the throat at a high tempo from the off and really shake Chelsea to their boots. In contrast to last October, we have goals in the side now. Confidence levels, so vital in expressing yourself on the pitch, must be sky high. Monday is the perfect showcase for Hughes to demonstrate our 'top 10' credentials.
Ignore the record books and our dismal showing in London derbies, it's all in the mind. At the risk of repeating my optimism ahead of the Liverpool trip, Fulham must be fearless in their pursuit of a win Monday night. It is very achievable. A final plea to the footballing gods, how about an OG at the other end for once? And to the man on the whistle, Mr. Dean, 'keep it real!'
Away from Fulham stuff, it's been a week to make me chuckle. Laughing at others misfortune diminishes our humanity, but is deliciously irresistable. In their current striker crisis Newcastle have turned to 34 year-old semi-retired journeyman Shefti Kuqi to give them a 'bulk and presence' up front. Why not stick a shirt over the St James Park heavy roller? Both have the same amount of mobility.
Roy makes a quick return to management at West Brom. Nice club, good fit. Can he keep them up? Possibly. What's good about the appointment will be the exodus of Fulham players to the Hawthorns this summer. If the Baggies do drop, I'll be rushing to get money on them to walk the fizzy pop league next season with the likes of Gera, Davies, Kamara, Dikgacoi and Pants added to the 5 decent players they've got now.
COYW! The essence of a proper football club
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