Fulham boss: It's the right time to play Chelsea - is he right?

Fulham Turnstiles

New Fulham manager Felix Magath believes the Cottagers could be playing Chelsea at just the right moment.

The 60-year-old German took charge at Craven Cottage from Dutch coach Rene Meulensteen as the club hope to survive a tough relegation battle to stay in the Premier League.

The new boss earned his first result last weekend in Fulham’s 1-1 draw with West Brom but they remain bottom of the Premier League table ahead of the clash with archrivals Chelsea who currently lead the league.

Fulham are four points from making it to safety out of the drop zone with just 11 games left to play before the end of the season but whilst a derby clash against the league’s leaders may not be exactly what the doctor ordered for Fulham, the boss believes they may be facing the Blues at just the right time following on from their 1-1 draw with Galatasaray on Wednesday.

“There’s always an advantage for teams that play against Champions League teams,” explained Magath.

“We are lucky that Chelsea has such a long trip to Istanbul and they played on Wednesday.”

“It’s a good situation for us,” he added.

However, whilst there is undoubtedly some truth to the advantage of teams who do not play in the Champions League when they face those teams who do, I suspect Chelsea will be looking to bounce back after their away draw with the Turkish giants in Istanbul when they travel to Craven Cottage on Saturday.

It remains to be seen whether the journey will have an effect on Jose Mourinho’s Blues side in terms of physical and mental fatigue but Chelsea have one of the most capable squads in terms of quality and depth of the twenty teams in the Premier League and their players have an abundance of experience of playing within such a congested fixture schedule.

The result in Istanbul wasn’t exactly what Mourinho would have hoped for but Chelsea shut up shop in the last half an hour of that game rather than pushing for a winner in the first leg of their last sixteen tie.

What could be a factor on Saturday’s derby clash is Mourinho’s team selection, given that Eden Hazard, Willian, Ramires, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Gary Cahill, Cesar Azpilicueta and Branislav Ivanovic all played 90 minutes on Wednesday night. I would expect Oscar to come into the starting line up and possibly David Luiz and almost certainly Nemanja Matic.

Chelsea will be looking to take all three points off the hosts in order to ensure they remain top of the league – the Blues have won eight and drawn two of their last 10 games and they are unbeaten in the Premier League since December 7th when they lost 1-0 at Stoke.

There is certainly reason for optimism that, away from home, they are not as strong as they are at Stamford Bridge and, incidentally, that defeat at the Britannia came just three days after their 4-3 win at Southampton the previous Wednesday. That was in fact the last time they lost and the last time they played on a Wednesday and then a Saturday so, arguably, Magath is indeed right that it’s the right time to face the Blues but, crucially, the onus is on his Fulham team to ensure the Blues have a gruelling 90 minutes again on Saturday.

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