AVRAM Grant will continue the daunting task of winning over sceptical Chelsea fans tomorrow when his side host local rivals Fulham in the Premier League.
Defeat by their west London neighbours in Grant’s first home match i
n charge since taking over from Jose Mourinho is unthinkable, especially as it is 43 years since Fulham last won a top-flight game at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea have played a record 66 home league matches undefeated in the top division since Arsenal beat them 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on February 21 2004.
They never lost a home league match in the three seasons they played under Mourinho but of more immediate concern is to win after three league matches without a victory or a goal.
Striker Didier Drogba is still missing while Frank Lampard is also sidelined, although Chelsea did rediscover their goal touch on Wednesday with a 4-0 League Cup win at Hull City.
Another London derby pits West Ham United against Arsenal at Upton Park, with the Gunners making the short trip as league leaders following their unbeaten start to the season.
West Ham were the last team to beat Arsene Wenger’s team in any match when they won at the Emirates last April but they will do extremely well to stifle Arsenal’s free-flowing style.
If the pacesetters do lose then champions Manchester United would go top with a win at Birmingham City, managed by former Old Trafford centre-back Steve Bruce.
United rested virtually their entire first team in a 2-0 League Cup defeat by Coventry City on Wednesday but the big guns will return to face a Birmingham side who tenaciously fought out a goalless draw at Liverpool last week.
Despite the midweek slip-up, United are on a good run in the league having won their last four matches without conceding a goal, including last weekend’s 2-0 home win over Chelsea.
The match between Manchester City and visitors Newcastle United could also have a bearing on the top of the table after the impressive starts both teams have made to the new campaign.
Derby County, who are bottom, host Bolton Wanderers, just one place above them, in a match both teams will be desperate to win after collecting just four points each from seven games.
Underperforming Tottenham Hotspur, who find themselves 18th and just a point off last place, will hope to improve when they face Aston Villa at White Hart Lane on Monday.
The match marks the 125th anniversary of their founding in 1882 and the players will wear a special shirt of light blue and white halves to mark the occasion.
Anything other than a win for Martin Jol’s men will leave the party with a very flat feeling indeed. — Reuters.