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Preview slash Rant Box: Fulham v. Chelsea

Welcome everyone to what is from henceforth known as the Great Fixture Congestion. Lovely.

Heavy traffic

Monday night's league match across the street at Fulham marks the beginning of a maddening run of five games in 15 days for the Chels. That folks is, quite simply, absurd.  To add to the recipe, these five games are likely to define our season. Rad.

Who: Fulham (est. 1879)
What: Barclays Premier League, Round 33
When: 9 April, 8pm local time (3pm EST)
Where: Craven Cottage (25,700)
How: ESPN2 (DirecTV 209, Dish Network 144)

Why: Craven Cottage, the launching point for this pivotal stretch of games, comes just two days after our highly fortunate win over Wigan at the Bridge. So much for regrouping. What we know is that we have to continue winning to have any chance of qualifying for next season's Champions League. That's enough of a why for everyone.

Martin Jol's Fulham are playing some quality football at the moment. They enjoy attacking. A significant injury to Bryan Ruiz (broken foot) will damage their vibrancy, but not to the extent that our hosts will stop being a threat. Clint Dempsey, for instance, is in the form of his life.

That being said, we'll need to keep John Obi Mikel on the field to restrict Fulham's ability to go at us. It's uncertain whether John Terry or Ashley Cole will be available, though I'd expect Frank Lampard to be fit and included in the side. How Roberto Di Matteo decides to rotate the squad following Wigan will be highly interesting.

A 4-3-3 would be a nice option for this match - particularly as Juan Mata is desperate for a break - but somehow I can't see our caretaker manager straying far from his trusted double pivot.

Projected XI (4-2-3-1):
Cech; Bane, Luiz, Cahill, Bertrand; Mikel, Lampard; Ramires; Kalou, Sturridge; Torres.

That's it for now. We'll see you back here tomorrow for the match. Carefree.


Team sheets

Schwarzer, Kelly, Hangeland, Hughes, John Arne Riise, Duff, Murphy, Diarra, Frei, Dembele, Dempsey. Bench: Stockdale, Orlando Sa, Kasami, Senderos, Etuhu, Briggs, Kacaniklic.

Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Bertrand, Mikel, Meireles, Kalou, Lampard, Ramires, Torres. Bench: Turnbull, Romeu, Mata, Drogba, Malouda, Bosingwa, Sturridge.

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