FULHAM - CHELSEA
West London derby and probably Fulham's biggest game of the season, certainly the one their supporters look for first, when the fixture list is released.
Roy Hodgson has done a fantastic job in his twelve months in charge, preserving Fulham's Premier League status last season, making them a very tough side to beat and seemingly one free from any relegation fears this time round. He has got them very well organised and effective, but I think it is fair to say that their midfield lacks a little imagination and one that is stronger "stopping", rather than creating.
Having said that, they have been in fantastic form at Craven Cottage, where only West Ham have collected maximum points. Six of their nine starts there have been "over", they have also scored and conceded in six, scored in all but one, notching two or more goals six times.
I expect that we will see goals today, especially as both teams are set to be without key players, in important positions. Chelsea will be without central defenders John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho. Fulham centre back Breda Hangeland and midfielder Jimmy Bullard, who have earned rave reviews all season and are set to be atrgeted by a number of clubs in the "window", both face late fitness tests.
Chelsea will be looking to break a club record, with their 20th away Premier League start without defeat, it would also complete an unbeaten 2008 on the road.They have already claimed 21 goals and eight wins this season, away from Stamford Bridge.
H2h wise, seven of the last ten meetings have been "over", with four producing at least four goals. I am going to take this game to follow suit and also a little on Frank Lampard getting on the scoresheet. This most prolific of midfielders, already has 20 goals to his name in 2008 and got back on track for this season, with a goal against WBA on Friday, his first in twelve outings, after scoring 8 in his first 15 starts. His goals tend to come in batches and he might be worthwhile following for a few games.
5.5 points "over" 2.5 goals 2.28 exchanges.
2.5 points Frank Lampard to score anytime 3.0 Corals.... 2.875 Paddy Power.... bigger on the exchanges, but for limited liquidity, this should increase through the morning.
Team News Update @13.12 Hangeland starts, Bullard is out, Anelka is on the bench, alongside Carvalho, which is a surprise and Drogba starts upfront.
STOCKPORT COUNTY - LEEDS UNITED
County served us very well last season and this young, talented side, are once again battling for a promotion spot, but I think that they need at least another season at this level and am firmly in the Leeds camp today.
Now that the visitors have stopped the rot, with a draw at home to league leaders Leicester, we can surely expect them to press on. They had the better of that game, enjoying the bulk of possession and creating the greater number of attempts on goal. New boss Simon Grayson had an extended training session with his squad yesterday and star players Beckford and Robinson, are sure to strip fitter, after returning from extended injury periods on Boxing Day. They will face competition from Robert Snodgrass, who is pressing to start, after coming off the bench to score the equaliser.
As usual, Leeds have sold out their ticket allocation and will have a large travelling support cheering them on. County will be without Raynes, McNeill and Dicker and just don't have the options available to Grayson, who's side have managed a massive 336 attempts on goal this season, 133 more than County, an average of over six per start more. The early kick off will also be less of a disadvantage to the visitors, who have far more experience of starting at such ungodly hours !
6.5 points Leeds United level ball 1.95 asian line.