Chelsea v Fulham: Five Key Battles

Chelsea will be looking for their first win at home under Rafael Benitez with the visit of local rivals Fulham.

Here are five key battles ahead of the match.

Branislav Ivanovic v Dimitar Berbatov

Ivanovic is likely to retain his place in the middle of the Chelsea defence as Rafa Benitez seems to prefer him in that position to Gary Cahill. Ivanovic is one of the only players tall and strong enough in the Chelsea defence to deal with the physical presence of Berbatov. Berbatov will look to pull Ivanovic out of position so the Chelsea defender has to stay disciplined.

David Luiz v Mladen Petric

David Luiz looked a completely different player against Manchester city as he sat in the heart of the Chelsea defence, kept things simple and went back to basics. He’ll be asked to do more of the same in this match against Petric who will be making little runs all over the pitch which could tempt David Luiz’s natural urges in terms of coming out of the back four to put his foot in and show a bit of aggression.

Ramires v Steve Sidwell

Ramires has become somewhat of a forgotten man in this Chelsea side due to the trio of Mata, Oscar and Hazard performing the bulk of the creative duties. Ramires should enjoy a little more time on the ball than he may expect and he is good enough to play a variety of different passes from cross field balls to little passes in behind the Fulham defence. If Ramires can cope with Sidwell’s physical presence then he could become the star man.

Eden Hazard v Chris Baird

Baird is one of the best defenders in the Fulham side because he is extremely quick and he defends simply. Eden Hazard will be making runs all over the pitch and Baird will be tasked with keeping him quiet when the Belgian play maker is over on his side. Baird won’t try and do anything special, simply guide Hazard into an area where he is less effective and try to intercept the ball if Hazard shows a poor touch at any point. If Baird can do the basics well, he cuts off one of Chelsea’s main supply lines.

Fernando Torres v Philippe Senderos

Torres looked very determined against Manchester City over the weekend but it’s clear he is not the player he was at Liverpool. The odd glimpse of his old self will be too good for central defender Senderos so the Fulham man has to try and keep his concentration throughout the game. Pace wise they are both very similar which means position is going to be everything for Senderos in terms of stopping the Spaniard.

images: © geetarchurchy, © Ben Sutherland

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