Didier Drogba set to be dropped for Fulham clash

Didier Drogba set to be dropped for Fulham clash.

EXCLUSIVE

Carlo Ancelotti is giving serious consideration to dropping Didier Drogba for Monday night’s Barclays Premier League clash at Fulham.

The Chelsea manager tried to accommodate new ?50million signing Fernando Torres alongside Drogba and Nicolas Anelka when his side met Liverpool at Stamford Bridge eight days ago.

Making way: Drogba (right) could be left out on Monday night to help Torres

After losing that encounter with Torres’s former club, the Italian insisted he would persist with the formation that sees Anelka deployed behind two strikers.

It had worked successfully at Sunderland when Anelka had played behind Drogba and Salomon Kalou and he insisted it could work again.

Slow start: Torres struggled on his debut for Chelsea against his former employers last weekend

But after a week examining theformation in training Ancelotti is no longer convinced it is a systemthat best suits his new British-record signing and he wants to give theSpaniard the best possible chance to succeed.

That leaves Drogba in a vulnerable position. He has not been in his finest form since recovering from malaria – certainly not in the form of Anelka, who had scored in four of the previous five games prior to the defeat by Liverpool.

Under threat: Terry could make way for new boy Luiz

Abandoning the new system isunlikely to go down well with Drogba, especially when he will alreadysee Torres as the player who has been brought in to eventually replacehim. Drogba, after all, is 32.

ButAncelotti, who will make his decision this morning, is under pressure.Not just to turn Torres into an instant success and so prove that RomanAbramovich was right to smash the British transfer record to buy himbut to make sure Chelsea do not lose touch in the race for ChampionsLeague football next season. With Tottenham winning at Sunderland onSaturday, Chelsea are three points adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham.

Ancelotti also revealed that captainJohn Terry is no longer an automatic choice due to the arrival of ?25msigning David Luiz. He insisted signing the Brazilian means he canrotate his central defenders and said his team ‘will not have a problemin the centre of defence in the future’.

Ancelotti added: ‘With Luiz we can have more rotation with our players and maintain more fresh defenders. ‘Now we have a lot of opportunities to choose players and give someone else a rest, and to maintain every defender’s fitness for the rest of the season.

‘When a good player with a lot of skill comes to improve the squad, everyone is happy. ‘Obviously in top teams there is competition. This is normal. It’s a good motivation.’

Luiz, 23, and Terry, 30, will start at Fulham tonight. But the expected return from a knee injury of Brazil defender Alex, 28, in time for the second leg of Chelsea’s Champions League clash with Copenhagen on March 16 will put extra pressure on Chelsea skipper Terry.

Right back Branislav Ivanovic, 26, who signed a five-and-a-half-year contract last week, can also play at centre half. Terry, who earns ?150,000 a week, will demand to play if he is fit, but Ancelotti knows the former England captain needs two or three days to recover from each match.

?Abramovich targets Arsenal’s chief scout after bagging Torres and LuizChelsea may live to regret snubbing new Danish sensation EriksenI’ll prove I can cut it with Chelsea, vows frizzy Brazilian defender LuizChelsea boss Ancelotti gives up on the Barclays Premier League titleChelsea FC news from across the web

?Explore more:People: Didier Drogba, Fernando Torres, Nicolas Anelka, Carlo Ancelotti Places: Copenhagen, Liverpool, United Kingdom, Brazil

Source: Daily Mail

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No Surprises in Carling Cup As Premier League Teams all Qualify

The gulf in class between the Premier League and the rest was emphasised again last night as Fulham, Newcastle and Everton all advanced to round three without too much fuss.

A somewhat below strength Fulham proved far too good for Port Vale who struggled to create any chances in their 6-0 drubbing, while Everton fielding a similarly weakened squad saw off League one promotion hopefuls 5-1 in front of a impressive crowd of 28,901. The numbers here were swelled by a substantial traveling contingent who were given an indication of how tough life is when you move up the divisions.

League 2 Accrington Stanley did try to make a game of it losing 3-2 but the Newcastle starting line up didn’t include any of the players who hammered Aston Villa 6-0 at the weekend and they had to wait until the 94th minute before grabbing their second goal which gave the score a little more respectability. Still the 4,098 fans who turned up will have enjoyed what was a very attack minded tie.

So only Blackpool of the Premier League clubs have been knocked out in round 2 and this went to extra time.  Only Birmingham still have to play and with a home tie against Rochdale they should keep up the top clubs winning record.

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Fulham Reach Their 1st European Final

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In what must rank as the best overall team performance of the season Fulham have reached their first ever European Final thanks to a 2-1 aggregate victory over Hamburg in the Europa League. Fulham have only competed in Europe once before back in 2002-3 season when they won the Intertoto cup and this season had to come through the third qualifying round and a playoff round just to reach the group stage.

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Fulham & Liverpool Could Meet in Europa League Final

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After credible results in their respective away legs last night the odds of an all English Europa League Final came a step closer. Fulham were forced to defend resolutely and with Bobby Zamora looking somewhat below par will be happy to return to the Cottage with a 0-0 draw which gives them a great chance of progressing. However they will have to be careful as Hamburg do have some great players and Rudd Van Nistelrooy is very capable of snatching a goal in dificult away games. Hopefully with Zamora fit again Fulham can advance.

Liverpool also came through a tough tie and will be confident of overturning the one goal deficit that was inflicted by Diego Forlan’s 9th minute goal and they now look favourites to win the cup. If they do meet in the final it will be the second time that there has been an all English Final with Tottenham having met Wolves in the final back in 1972 when it was a 2 legged final. The second legs are due to be played on 29th April.

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Liverpool & Fulham advance to Europa League Semi Final’s

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After the disappointment of seeing both Arsenal & Manchester United crash out of the Champions league, the Premier League regained a bit of pride as both Liverpool and Fulham advanced to the Europa League semi finals, setting up the prospect of an all English final.
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Fulham Take Slender Lead To Wolfsburg

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Fulham had to showall the heart and battling qualities which took them past Juventus against a well organised Wolfsburg team in the Europa League Quarter Final 1st leg at Craven Cottage.

The reigning German champions Wolfsburg came to contain and this contributed to a largely sterile first half which is probably best forgotten. However in the second half Fulhams potent strike force finally made an impact with first Bobby Zamora and then Damien Duff grabbing goals which looked like giving Fulham a comfortable cushion for the second leg. everything was looking good until the last few moments when Wolfsburg grabbed what might prove to be a crucial away goal, which their superior possession just about warranted.

The game is now nicely poised and it is diffucult to predict who will advance to the semi finals.

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Fulham Enjoy Their Finest Hour & A Half

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In what must rank as one of the greatest comebacks by an English club in Europe, Fulham against all the odds won 4-1 last night against the mighty Italians Juventus to progress into the Europa League Quarter Finals with a 5-4 aggregate win.

Training 3-1 from the first leg and given no hope of progressing by the bookmakers or pundits things looked very bleak when Training 3-1 from the first leg and given no hope of progressing by the bookmakers or pundits things looked very bleak when Trezeguat fired Juventus into an apparently unassailable 4-1 lead after just 2 minutes.

Fortunately Fulham responded well to this setback and pulled a goal back after 9 minutes and thanks to a controversial refereeing decision which saw Juventus reduced to 10 men when Cannavaro was sent off in the 26th minute started to dominate the game.

Fulham were further aided by Juve deciding to play their third choice keeper 39-year-old Antonio Chimenti who was short of match experience and it showed.

Twice in the 1st half he was well beaten but to Fulham’s dismay the woodwork denied them but in the 39th minute Hungarian International Zoltan Gera struck to put Fulham in from on the night. He then scored a penalty in the second half to level the tie and set up a thrilling final half hour.

With 20 minutes to go Roy Hodson produced what was to be an inspired substitution bringing on American International Clint Dempsey and in the 82nd minute he scored the goal which against all the odds took Fulham into the last 8 of the Europa League.

Juventus were reduced to 9 men in injury time when Zebina was sent off for a rash tackle probably born out of frustration.

I am sure everyone in English football will be delighted both for Fulham and especially Roy Hodgson who is probably the most under Rated manager in the Premier League.

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