Andre Villas-Boas has a minor injury crisis on his hands, but Chelsea will still feel like favorites going into their West London Derby against Fulham on Boxing Day. Branislav Ivanovic and John Obi Mikel picked up injuries against Tottenham Hotspur that will keep them out on Monday, while Alex has been removed from the team and Michael Essien is still on the long-term injury list. David Luiz's fitness will be decided on Monday morning.
Against Tottenham, Chelsea played with Jose Bosingwa in the center of defense with Paulo Ferreira at right back. More like than that is a move from defensive midfield to central defense for Oriol Romeu, who spent some of his time at the position while playing for Barcelona B. This would likely mean a return to the starting XI for Frank Lampard, while Raul Meireles would play a deeper role.
Fulham were absolutely crushed by Manchester United in their last league match, and they were particularly exploited down the flanks. Moussa Dembele and Bryan Ruiz don't exactly do much defending when they're played as wingers, and Martin Jol will probably have to make a change to avoid being run over by Chelsea.
Chelsea vs. Fulham
Game Date/Time: Monday, Dec. 26, 8:00 a.m. ET, 1:00 p.m. local
Venue: Stamford Bridge, London, England
TV: FOX Soccer Channel (USA - English), FOX Deportes (USA - Spanish), Sportsnet World (Canada)
For more on the two teams, check out Fulham blog Cottagers Confidential and Chelsea blog We Ain't Got No History. We'll have coverage of this game and all of the other games from this round of fixtures in our Boxing Day Football StoryStream.