Football News

Premier League preview: Chelsea v Fulham

Nov 26, 2012 9:40 AM GMT

New Chelsea coach Rafa Benitez will be searching for his first Premier League win when his side hosts Fulham on Wednesday night.

Benitez took charge of the reigning European champions last week after fan-favourite Roberto Di Matteo was sacked following a string of poor results.

The former Liverpool manager's first game in charge ended in a scoreless draw against defending champions Manchester City as the Blues dropped to fourth place on the table.

 During that clash at Stamford Bridge the home fans made their feelings known with Benitez greeted with boos and chants of 'There's only one Di Matteo'.

Despite admitting it will be tough to win the fans over, the 52-year-old is confident he can turn things around with some positive results.

While they failed to defeat Manchester City, their defence showed vast improvement and the clean sheet was their first in 11 matches.

Benitez made minimal changes to Di Matteo's formation with Fernando Torres returning to the starting side after missing the Champions League loss to Juventus – which cost Di Matteo his job.

Torres, who has scored just once in his past nine games for Chelsea, will be keen to recapture the form he showed in his Liverpool days when he was one of the most prolific strikers in the world.

 While Chelsea are without a win in their past five Premier League matches their neighbours Fulham, who are in 10th place, are also in a form slump.

They haven't tasted victory since a 1-0 triumph over Aston Villa last month and are coming off the back of consecutive losses to Stoke City and Sunderland.

Many of their problems have centred around their leaky defence, which is the equal third-worst in the competition with 23 goals conceded in 13 games.

But they still pose a threat up front with former Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov relishing his fresh start with five goals in nine matches.

The Bulgarian international impressed his manager in Saturday's loss to Stoke when he was used predominantly in a midfield role in the absence of Bryan Ruiz, who looks set to miss again with a hamstring injury.

Former Chelsea midfielder Damien Duff is likely to return to the starting line-up after being used off the bench against Stoke and he will need to be at the top of his game if they can cause an upset.

Fulham have only tasted victory over their London rivals once in 20 Premier League encounters, while their last victory at Stamford Bridge was way back in 1980.