Chelsea Vs Fulham: Big Match preview

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Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti has been boosted by the availability of African trio Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and John Obi Mikel for Monday's visit of Fulham.

Ancelotti had expected to be without all three as they prepare for the impending African Nations Cup but the Blues have managed to secure an agreement with their national teams to delay their departures until Tuesday.

Chelsea will still be without Nicolas Anelka (muscular), Michael Essien (hamstring) and Jose Bosingwa (knee) while Florent Malouda serves a one-game ban.

Ancelotti believes his side are still on track to win the Barclays Premier League title despite their alarming mid-season wobble.

The Blues have won just one of their last five league games, and one in seven in all competitions, following the goalless draw at in-form Birmingham on Boxing Day, with defending champions Manchester United chasing them in second place.

"It's not our best moment; one victory in seven is not good for us," Ancelotti admitted.

"I don't see a big problem though. I think we have some problems, because we have two players out who are very good in Nicolas Anelka and Michael Essien and we don't always play well. But not against Birmingham - in this match I think we played good football.

"Our aim is to win the title and we are at the top of the table at the moment. This was the half-way point in the season and we're top so that's good for us."

As for whether Chelsea can hold on and be top by the time the season ends in May, Ancelotti added: "We hope to be.

"If we do a good job and work hard like we have until now, then I think we can win it.

"It's normal, I think. In our mind it is impossible to win the title in December. You have to win the title in May and you have to be ready in May because I think it will be a long race right until the end of the season."

Fulham defender Brede Hangeland could miss the trip to Stamford Bridge.

Hangeland sustained a knee injury while warming up for the goalless draw with Tottenham on Boxing Day and while he completed the match, he is a doubt for the west London derby.

Right-back John Pantsil will play his last game for Fulham before departing for the African Nations Cup while Andy Johnson could feature after recovering from his groin injury.

Roy Hodgson has advised caution over unrealistic expectations as Fulham attempt to complete an outstanding year.

Pundits have been queuing up to shower Hodgson's Fulham with praise as the club continues to punch above its weight under the guidance of their astute manager.

They finished last season's Barclays Premier League campaign in an all-time high of seventh, qualifying for the Europa League, and continue to thrive this term.

A last 32 appointment with Shakhtar Donetsk awaits in Europe while the club enter Monday's Bank Holiday round of fixtures in ninth place, five points above Sunderland.

Evidence of their growing ambition could be gleaned from their frustration at failing to dispatch Champions League-chasing Tottenham in Saturday's goalless draw at Craven Cottage.

Just seven days earlier they thumped champions Manchester United 3-0 and west London rivals Chelsea will face a side brimming with confidence.

But while Hodgson agrees Fulham fans should be revelling in the success, he implores them not to lose sight of the club's limitations.

"Our blank sheet of paper at the start of the season said stay up," he said.

"I'm delighted with the way things are going, especially for the chairman because he's had many bad years.

"The fans are enjoying it and this is a very good moment in our history.

"But if we ever start thinking this is easy, we'll be heading for a fall.

"Just look at clubs like Leeds, Charlton and Norwich - who'd have thought it possible that they'd be where they are now?

"Our message to the fans is let's keep enjoying it but to not lose sight of why it's happening. Let's not get carried away.

"We'll never have more than 24,000 people watching our games in our wonderful old stadium.

"We won't have a ground like the Emirates or Old Trafford because this is who we are.

"We are near the maximum of what we can be, but we can stay here.

"There's no reason why we have to drop but it will be very hard to stay here."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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