Rafael Benitez is expected to make a few changes to the side that started the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City on Sunday, so the likes of John Terry and Frank Lampard could return to the starting line-up.
England internationals Ashley Cole and Gary Cahill aren’t quite ready to return from injury just yet but there have been reports that Cole may be available for selection against Liverpool at the weekend.
Marko Marin had been suffering with a thigh problem (how will we cope?) but Benitez did confirm that he had trained today.
The home side will be without former Chelsea players Damien Duff (thigh) and Steve Sidwell, who will serve the final game of his three-match suspension, but Martin Jol has no fresh injury concerns.
The XI I’d pick:
B. Ivanovic – D. Luiz – J. Terry (c) – R. Bertrand
Ramires – F. Lampard
V. Moses – J. Mata – E. Hazard
Cesar Azpilicueta has been showing signs of wear and tear in the last few matches so I think he should sit this one out and put Terry back in at centre-half with Branislav Ivanovic being moved out to the fullback position.
John Obi Mikel had a really poor game against City and didn’t look great when he came on against Rubin Kazan on Thursday and it seems that the midfielder has struggled to find any sort of consistency since returning from the African Cup, so I’d partner Lampard with Ramires in this one and perhaps Nathan Ake could get a run-out at some point during this one depending on how things are going.
None of our attacking midfielders impressed at the weekend so I hope they’ll be more up for this one. I’d keep playing Mata and Hazard as we cannot afford to leave our best players out at this stage, whilst Oscar can be rested for the Liverpool game.
I’d prefer Fernando Torres to Demba Ba in this game. The last five we have played against Fulham have all resulted in a draw and they’ll play as though their lives depend on it tomorrow, so having someone run at them may cause more problems than a back-to-goal type of forward, but he’s always there if we need him.