Fulham v Chelsea, 20:00
– Fulham could only battle to a 1-1 draw as they were held by a battling Aston Villa side on Saturday.
– The news of Brede Hangeland’s new contract will have been greeted with great enthusiasm by Fulham fans, the physical centre-half forming the bedrock of their defensive unit. The 6ft 6in giant has plenty of skill to match his physique and his 297 defensive contributions this season stand as testament to the Norwegian’s immense value to Martin Jol’s side.
– His defensive colleague Sascha Riether has been a classy foil to Hangeland’s brawn, the German adapting superbly to the Premier League this season. Not only does he have the best tackle success rate in the Fulham squad (76.5% from 68 challenges), he’s also completed the third highest number of passes in the opponent’s half for the Cottagers (508).
– Steve Sidwell has served as Fulham’s enforcer in the midfield this season, a role he has apparently not taken lightly. He’s completed the second highest number of tackle for any player in the league this season, with 126 according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
– Chelsea secured a 2-1 victory over Sunderland last time out in the Premier League but will be stinging after they exited the FA Cup on Sunday courtesy of a 1-2 defeat at the hands of Manchester City at Wembley.
– Demba Ba delivered yet another stunning goal against City on Sunday to further underline the quality he brings to the Stamford Bridge outfit. Ba’s deceptive moment, and obvious physical strength, help to manoevure the Frenchman into numerous scoring positions as evidenced by the fact that he now stands the only Chelsea player to have had more than 100 shots on goal this season (103).
– Fellow striker Fernando Torres has been enjoying something of a revival in form in recent weeks, a upturn in fortunes that mirrors his standing on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. Torres has the best shot accuracy rate in the Chelsea squad this season for players with more than 10 shots on goal (67.3%), something his detractors should bear in mind the next time they seek to criticise the much maligned Spanish international.
– The scoreline could have made far worse reading had it not been for some smart interventions by the ever-consistent Petr Cech. Indeed, Chelsea’ number one has been in fine form for the entirety of this campaign, his 161 saves crucial to Chelsea’s hope of securing European football next season.