Chelsea vs. Fulham 2012: Preview and TV schedule

Mike Hewitt

Rafael Benitez faces a game that he will probably need to win to get the discontented Chelsea faithful on side as they take on Fulham at Stamford Bridge.

Ah, West London. The home of irritating reality TV shows, sinister chairmen, and rivalries without any real ill will behind them. Chelsea-Fulham is one such contest, technically a derby but without the venom. Despite that, it doesn't mean this isn't a hugely important game, albeit more for one side than the other. Rafael Benitez faces a job to win over the discontented fans at Stamford Bridge, and anything but a win here is likely to make the job harder.

Martin Jol certainly thinks so, pointing out "I think after a couple of wins I feel he will win them over... I feel it is a must-win game for them. They have to probably win, to have a result, tomorrow otherwise that will be problematic." Touché. Chelsea fans will certainly be expecting victory - the Cottagers' record at Stamford Bridge is worse than rotten, and they also have a swathe of injuries to key players further weakening their side.

Rafael Benitez, meanwhile, will hope that he can work his magic to raise Fernando Torres from the dead. The Spaniard said: "I think he can come back. How close? I don't know. It depends on the rest of the team. I'm sure he can improve, but the team has to help him." Given the form of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Oscar, Ramires et al, it's something of a stretch to blame Torres' woes on Chelsea's midfielders, but upsetting several players to placate one... it's the Benitez way, folks. Get used to it. Vive la Rafalution!

Chelsea injuries and suspensions

Out: Frank Lampard (calf), John Terry (knee). In doubt: Daniel Sturridge (hamstring), Gary Cahill (illness).

Fulham injuries and suspensions

Out: Alexander Kacaniklic (hamstring), Bryan Ruiz (hamstring), Kieran Richardson (hamstring), Simon Davies (hip), Brede Hangeland (suspended).

Chelsea veterans Frank Lampard and John Terry continue their rehabilitation, but Gary Cahill is likely to be available for selection, and Daniel Sturridge could also make an appearance.

Fulham, meanwhile, are decimated with injury problems and also have their captain Brede Hangeland suspended. On the plus side, they do have the highly-promising Kerim Frei back from his spell at Cardiff City on loan.

Match Date\Time: Wednesday, 7:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET

Venue: Stamford Bridge, London, England

TV: Fox Soccer Channel (U.S. English), Fox Deportes (U.S. Spanish), Sportsnet One (Canada)

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