Let's dare to dream

Posted by Phil Mison

Clive Rose/Getty ImagesThe play of midfielder Scott Parker will likely determine if Fulham can get a result at Stamford Bridge.

It has to happen again one day, so why not make it this weekend? Yes, Fulham have not won at Stamford Bridge since I was prone to boogie on down in my bubble perm (no kiddin' folks) and white flairs to the Village People way back in 1979. The last time the Whites tasted victory at the Bridge it barely registered -- I was enjoying a wild period of my 20s spent partying in Houston (ask anyone about the Montrose district at that time) before setting off to hitch through Central America.

You'll have to wait for the memoirs to hear the rest. What matters now is that Fulham maintain their recent good form against the Blues: we've had four draws in the last five meetings, and remember that the form book often goes out the window when it comes to a derby.

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It's a tad disingenuous of Martin Jol to try and ramp up the pressure on Chelsea. The newly laconic and laid back persona of the 'Special One' seems rather relaxed by Chelsea's worst start to a campaign in a decade. Jose Mourinho says the side are playing poorly because he's trying to change their style of play. Jol's still looking for Fulham to find a style -- of any kind. Lest we get carried away, the Chelsea home record in league play since January is won nine drawn two of 11 played. Fulham's recent run of just two wins from 12 does not bear repeating.

But it would certainly excite the tabloid editors no end should Jose lose a third game in a week. Somehow I think Fulham are going to feel the backlash from that Basel result in the Champions League. I also expect to see big figures like John Terry and Juan Mata recalled to the ranks. Chelsea in crisis? When you can make a choice up front between Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba, it's not a problem that would keep me awake at night.

By contrast, Jol looks like heading into the fray with just one striker of note. Darren Bent's hamstring strain has cleared up, but while Jol refused Friday to rule out Dimitar Berbatov, I sense we won't see him. No matter. This will be a good exercise in seeing how the 10 outfield players in white deploy without both Berba and Bryan Ruiz in the ranks. Those absentees give licence for others to energetically support Bent from midfield in what I'm sure will be a 4-5-1 system.

If we have prepared in the right way for this game and Scott Parker dictates from the middle of the park, this is where Fulham could well have the edge. Like Jol, Mourinho admits to still being unsure of his best eleven.

But if we are to record a shock win, we have to score twice. Knowing how hard we are finding goals to come by presently, defensively we need to be faultless, and against a fired up Chelsea even that may not be enough.

This week's birthday boy David Stockdale stays in goal while our Dutch import continues rehab on his shoulder; Matty Briggs has been to Germany for a hernia op and is out for three more weeks. Pajtim Kasami will be supporting Bent and this would be an ideal stage for the youngster to really shine, while I hope to see Adel Taarabt given some game time.

And to our army of Fulham fans around the world, don't forget if you want to follow the game, it's the late kick off Saturday. Let's hope this derby is special for all the right reasons. In recent visits with a little more self-belief we might have nicked that long overdue victory. Win lose or draw, I'll take anything as long as Fulham give it a go! COYW!



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