Blues need to bounce back at fortress Stamford Bridge

Chelsea will look to bounce back from their second defeat of the season – Sunday’s 2-0 loss to Liverpool, by returning to winning ways as they welcome Fulham to Stamford Bridge. Despite the reverse at Anfield, the Blues remain on top of the Premier League, though their lead was cut to just two points with Manchester United closing the gap. Chelsea were put to the sword by their old nemesis Fernando Torres as the Spaniard scored two first-half goals that put the game beyond the visiting Londoners to take his tally against the reigning champions to seven goals in eight games.

A return to the home fans on Wednesday night after consecutive away trips in the Premier League sees Carlo Ancelotti’s men take on West London rivals Fulham. All whom have visited Stamford Bridge in the league this season have left pointless and goalless as the hosts racked up five wins and 16 goals in their opening matches. They will hope to improve that record against an opponent whom the omens suggest have little hope. Fulham are without an away win in almost 15 months; 23 Premier League games away from home have past since they overcame Portsmouth on the opening day of last season. Chelsea, on the other hand, have won 15 of their last 16 home games. Taking into account that the visitors have only beaten Chelsea once in their last 27 league and cup meetings, a victory for Mark Hughes’ side against his former club would be a complete upset. Chelsea have also never lost back-to-back Premier League games under Ancelotti’s reign. The match will be his 50th in charge of the club, with 35 wins, just six draws and eight defeats in his previous 49 games.

Didier Drogba should be available for the Fulham game despite the announcement that he has been suffering with malaria. The Ivorian forward missed games against Aston Villa and away to Spartak Moscow in mid-October with a virus cited as his reason for absence. He was unable to start at Liverpool on Sunday, after suffering a fever, but appeared in the second half. The club announced the contraction of the dangerous tropical illness as manager Ancelotti revealed the infection and explained his striker has been suffering for nearly a month: “He has this virus [malaria] and, obviously, he lost power and training,” the Italian told reporters. “He lost his condition. He’s had treatment and now he’s OK. He’ll come back immediately in the best condition.”

Apart from those missing with long-term injuries, the Blues will be boosted by the likely return of Michael Essien who looks to have overcome the toe issue that ruled him out against Liverpool, but Frank Lampard’s reappearance in the line-up may have to wait until the weekend match with Sunderland. The England midfielder has been out since the end of August recovering from a hernia operation on his groin. Game day decisions will be made over the fitness of Alex, struggling with a swollen knee, and the club’s top scorer in all competitions with 10 goals, Nicolas Anelka who is troubled by a back problem.

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