Chelsea will be hoping to atone for their FA Cup semi-final exit when they take on local rivals Fulham in the Premier League on Wednesday.
The Blues suffered a 2-1 defeat against Manchester City on Sunday to leave them with only the Europa League to play for in what has been a disappointing season for Rafael Benitez’s side.
A loss at Craven Cottage would compound Chelsea’s misery and put a serious dent in their hopes for Champions League qualification after Arsenal’s victory over Norwich on the weekend dropped the Stamford Bridge outfit to fourth on the table.
Interim manager Benitez is under no illusions as to the importance of Wednesday’s west London derby despite the fact they have a game in hand on the Gunners and fellow Champions League hopefuls Tottenham.
“Now we have to concentrate on the league and for us Fulham on Wednesday will be a massive game,” he said after the loss to City.
“We know we have to be physically and mentally ready.”
“We will try to keep the players thinking positively and about the good things we did in the second half (against City).”
Fulham sit comfortably in mid-table, nine points above the relegation zone and with Premier League survival virtually assured for another season.
They head into the game against their local rivals off the back of a 1-1 draw with struggling Aston Villa on a day Martin Jol’s men failed to create many clear-cut chances.
In team news, Fulham will once again be without former Chelsea midfielder Steve Sidwell who will serve the final game of his three-match ban he received for a red card against QPR last week.
Injury clouds are still hovering over Chelsea defensive pair Ashley Cole (hamstring) and Gary Cahill (knee) with both players unlikely to feature.
Despite losing consecutive games to Rubin Kazan and Manchester City, Chelsea will still be confident of collecting all three points in what is effectively a must-win game.
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