Fulham-Chelsea Betting Preview: Cottagers can cause problems for Benitez's Blues

Rafael Benitez's men head for Craven Cottage looking for three points but Willie Duncan is anticipating a tough night for the Blues against Martin Jol's in-form home side
Chelsea crashed out of the FA Cup after slipping to a 2-1 defeat to Manchester City in Sunday’s semi-final clash at Wembley Stadium, but Rafael Benitez’s side will look to boost their chances of qualifying for next season’s Champions League when they face west London rivals Fulham at Craven Cottage on Wednesday night.

The Blues can consolidate their place in the top four of the Premier League should they win on Wednesday – a prospect which is chalked up as a 17/20 (1.85) chance with William Hill.

The Cottagers sit comfortably in mid-table following an impressive run of results which has seen Martin Jol’s men lose just one of their last seven league fixtures. That defeat coming courtesy of a last-gasp Papiss Cisse goal for Newcastle United at St James’ Park and the Fulham faithful will be desperate to see their side dent Chelsea’s Champions League hopes.

Fulham are priced up at 16/5 (4.20) with William Hill to pick up all three points while the same firm go 5/2 (3.50) that both sides have to settle for a share of the spoils here.

It is worth noting that Fulham have failed to score just once in their last nine matches in all competitions on home turf while Chelsea have scored in 11 of their their last 12 outings in all competitions, so this looks likely to be an entertaining clash.

Martin Jol’s side will be heartened by the fact that Benitez's men have also failed to keep a clean sheet away from home in the Premier League since January and the Cottagers will hope to expose any defensive deficiencies that the Blues exhibit here with Dimitar Berbatov primed to be Chelsea’s tormentor-in-chief.

With that in mind, the 4/6 (1.67) quote from William Hill for both teams to hit the target looks to represent good value and is sure to prove popular with punters while the 8/11 (1.73) on offer from the same firm for three or more goals to be scored is also tempting.

However, it should be noted only two of Fulham’s last eight matches have featured more than two goals and the home side’s defensive discipline could frustrate the Blues.

Fulham have trailed just once at half-time in 15 Premier League matches here, while the Blues have been behind at the break just twice on their travels thus far this term. A closely contested first half seems likely, so William Hill’s 6/5 (2.20) quote for the first 45 to end in stalemate is outstanding value and should be backed accordingly.

If Fulham are to put pressure on Chelsea's creaky defence, former Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov is likely to be a pivotal figure for the Cottagers and the Bulgarian, who has scored 13 goals so far this term and is Fulham's top scorer, is the value selection at a juicy 9/4 (3.25) with William Hill to score at any time against the Blues on Wednesday.

Draw at half-time at 6/5 (2.20) with William Hill
Berbatov to score at any time at 9/4 (3.25) with William Hill

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Willie Duncan is a freelance sports journalist. Willie, from Edinburgh, has covered Scottish football for over 10 years and he specialises in football betting markets from across Europe. You can also follow Willie on Twitter

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