Sports Mole brings you live text coverage of tonight's West London derby between Fulham and Chelsea.
By Barney Corkhill, Assistant Editor Filed: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 19:00 UK
Last Updated: Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 16:05 UK
Chelsea moved back into third courtesy of a 3-0 win over Fulham in the West London derby this evening.
David Luiz gave Chelsea the lead just before the half hour mark with a magnificent long range effort, finding the top corner from 35 yards out.
John Terry doubled his side's lead shortly before half time when he was left unmarked in the box, and the Chelsea skipper added a third to put the game beyond doubt in the second half.
You can read how the latest West London derby unfolded with Sports Mole's live play-by-play updates below.
7pmGood evening! Thank you for joining Sports Mole for tonight's West London derby as Fulham host Chelsea at Craven Cottage. Let's get straight down to business...
7.02pmWe'll start, as ever, by looking at tonight's hosts. Fulham have enjoyed a solid season this year and can be fairly safe in the knowledge that they should be immune from any relegation dogfight in the coming weeks. They drew 1-1 with Aston Villa in their last outing, bringing them to that magic 40-point mark.
7.04pmThey currently sit slap bang in the middle of the Premier League table, but could rise one place into ninth with a win tonight. A draw would put them level on points with Swansea, but the Cottagers would remain in 10th because of their inferior goal difference.
7.06pmTheir recent form has been very befitting of a mid-table team. They have only lost one of their last seven games, but the remaining six are split into three draws and three wins. If we look a bit further back at their last 10 games, their record is four wins, three draws and three losses.
7.08pmWhat manager Martin Jol has done to his side, however, is make them hard to beat. They have only lost to Manchester United, Manchester City and Newcastle in 2013 and haven't conceded more than two goals in a league game since before Christmas.
7.10pmChelsea, meanwhile, are still struggling to string together a significant run of wins under Rafael Benitez. They have a packed fixture schedule due to their ongoing involvement in the Europa League and, until Sunday, the FA Cup, so fatigue may be playing a part, but they need to find a bit more consistency as they are embroiled in a heated battle for a top four spot with Spurs and Arsenal.
7.12pmOf their last 10 matches in all competitions, Chelsea have won five, lost four and drawn one, which puts them in similar form to today's opponents. Their league form is a bit more positive, but they have still lost three and drawn two of their last 10 Premier League games, dropping points to the likes of Reading, Southampton and Newcastle.
7.14pmStill, a top four spot is still very much in their hands. They currently sit fourth in the table but would move above Arsenal into third with three points tonight. Even better news for the Blues is that they will have a game in hand over the Gunners, while tonight's game also acts as their game in hand over Spurs.
7.16pmShould Chelsea lose today, however, then things will get even more interesting in the race for a Champions League spot. They will still have a game in hand over Arsenal but they would find themselves two points behind the Gunners. They would also stay level on points with Spurs having played the same amount of games.
7.18pmTEAM NEWS: The team news is in for both sides and the headlines from the home camp are that Martin Jol has made two changes to his side. In come John-Arne Riise and Mladen Petric for Kirean Richardson and Damien Duff. Fernando Torres starts for Chelsea with Demba Ba on the bench, alongside Oscar. Full team news coming right up...
7.22pmCHELSEA SUBS: Turnbull, Oscar, Mikel, Ake, Azpilicueta, Benayoun, Ba
7.24pmSo, what can we make of those starting lineups? Well, the Prtic change was forced on Martin Jol as Duff is out injured but, other than that, it is largely as expected. Their dangerman will, of course, be Dimitar Berbatov. The former Manchester United striker has the ability to be a match winner and Chelsea will have to keep a particularly close eye on him tonight.
7.26pmAs far as Chelsea are concerned, it is no surprise to see Benitez chopping and changing his side a little bit. He is renowned for doing so in normal circumstances, so with the sort of fixture pile-up that Chelsea have at the moment it had to be expected. With such depth in his squad he can afford to leave the likes of Oscar and Ba on the bench without losing significant quality from his starting lineup.
7.28pmToday will be another chance for Torres to prove his doubters wrong. The former Liverpool man has been showing signs of improvement over the last few weeks and, while he is still some distance from his dazzling best, he can still be a very real threat to Fulham tonight.
7.30pmTorres won't be lacking quality service tonight either. The likes of Moses, Mata and Hazard can create something out of nothing, and are just as capable of scoring chances themselves as they are making them for others. Behind them, Lampard's goalscoring exploits are among the best we have ever seen from a midfielder in this country and Ramires is partial to the odd goal himself.
7.32pmEven Chelsea's defenders pose a significant goal threat. Ivanovic, Terry and Luiz are all dominant in the air and will be a useful weapon for the Blues at set pieces. Luiz also has the ability to bring the ball out of defence and go for goal from range, so Fulham will have a big job on their hands to keep Chelsea at bay today.
7.34pmA quick word on Lampard: The Chelsea man is making his 600th appearance for the club today, which is a major milestone for him. He has been one of the club's greatest ever players and he won't be forgotten in a hurry at Stamford Bridge. He is also edging ever closer to the club's goalscoring record, which is a remarkable feat from midfield.
7.36pmThe recent history of this fixture makes very interesting reading, and it is fair to say that bragging rights have been shared out evenly over the past few years. The last five meetings between these two sides have ended as a draw, yielding just four goals in the process.
7.38pmLooking further back, however, it is Chelsea who have dominated. Fulham haven't beaten their neighbours in the last 15 meetings, a run that stretches all the way back to 2006. On that occasion it was Luis Boa Morte who scored Fulham's goal in a 1-0 win.
7.40pmBefore that, Fulham had gone 18 matches without beating Chelsea, meaning that they have only beaten the Blues once since 1964 - not a record to shout about. Their most recent meeting ended in a 0-0 draw in November - Benitez's second match in charge.
7.42pmOverall, these two sides have met each other 47 times, with Fulham winning on just three of those occasions. Chelsea have picked up 28 wins, with the remaining 16 ending all square.
7.44pmFulham's home form hasn't been too impressive this season, which is a concern for Jol. They have picked up 24 points from 15 matches in front of their home fans, a tally that is the joint-sixth worst record in the league.
7.46pmChelsea, meanwhile, have the fifth-best away record in the league so far this season having won seven and drawn three of their away games, giving them a points tally of 24 from 15 games.
7.48pmFulham may be in danger of taking this match lightly this afternoon, not because of the opposition but because of their league position. They have now reached the 40-point mark and should be safe from relegation, so they could well take their foot off the pedal a bit. Jol will be eager to make sure that that doesn't happen, and a West London derby may be the perfect chance to make sure that it doesn't, but there is no doubt that Chelsea need the win more than their opponents today.
7.50pmPREDICTION: We're 10 minutes from kickoff at Craven Cottage, which means that it is prediction time! Unfortunately for the hosts, I can't see them winning this one. Chelsea need a win to put themselves in the driving seat for third place while it is a bit of a dead rubber for Fulham. I wouldn't be too surprised to see yet another draw between these two teams, but I'm going to go for a 2-0 win to Chelsea.
7.54pmThere are other midweek matches on in the Premier League tonight. Both of which are already underway. West Ham host Manchester United while Man City take on Wigan. I will keep you updated as and when goals go in in those two games.
7.56pmJohn Terry returns to the starting lineup today, just the third time he has begun a Premier League match under Benitez. The club captain has fallen down the pecking order a bit at the club since Benitez's arrival, but he will still give everything whenever he is picked.
7.58pmThe players are on their way onto the pitch now, coming through the open top Craven Cottage tunnel ahead of this West London derby. Both sides have been in decent goalscoring form of late but this match doesn't have a great history for high-scoring matches so it will be interesting to see which way this one goes tonight.
8pmA hat-trick tonight for Frank Lampard would see him break Bobby Tambling's goalscoring record at Chelsea. Scoring three times in your 600th appearance, which also happens to be a derby match would be some way to do it!
0 minKICKOFF! Here we go! Chelsea get us underway at Craven Cottage.
1 minUPDATE: An early update for you from Upton Park, where West Ham have taken a shock lead against Manchester United. It was Ricardo Vaz Te who got the goal.
3 minCHANCE! What a chance for Fulham early on! Riether whips a peach of a cross into the box and Ruiz has peeled off Terry to latch on to it. He is just six yards out but balloons his volley way over the bar. It wasn't quite as easy as it looked, but he still should have scored there.
5 minFulham have made a bright start to this match and Chelsea are just struggling to get their dangermen on the ball. Fulham have been out quickly to pressure the likes of Mata and Hazard, giving them very little time on the ball.
7 minPetric flicks the ball to Berbatov, who takes a couple of touches before unleashing a long-range effort towards goal. He strikes it well enough, but Ramires is there to block the shot.
8 minCHANCE! Hangeland goes to clear the ball but hits it up rather than out. He waits for it to come down again, during which time Torres nips in front of him to nod it back into the danger area. Lampard is on hand to volley towards goal on the turn, but Schwarzer is there to collect.
10 minChelsea are starting to ease their way into this game now. It has been a slow start from them really, which could well be down to the sheer number of matches they have played recently. This is their 60th of the season.
12 minIvanovic goes down under a challenge and stays down. Fulham play on for a bit until Emanuelson kicks the ball out to boos from the crowd. Unsurprisingly, Ivanovic gets up soon after and is fine to continue. Fulham shouldn't have kicked that out.
14 minBerbatov is playing very deep today, with Petric acting as the most advanced striker. Berbatov certianly has the ability to thread a pass through, but his position is allowing Ramires and Lampard to get tight to him and they are marking him out of the game at the moment.
15 minBerbatov does find a bit of space this time and he tries to slip a pass into Petric, but it is just intercepted. That is the ype of space that the Bulgarian will be looking for tonight, though.
16 minUPDATE: Manchester United have equalised against West Ham. Antonio Valencia got the goal for the league leaders, and it is 1-1 at Upton Park now.
17 minYELLOW CARD! Berbatov sends a long ball over to Petric, who just manages to keep it in. Petric tries to nick it around Ivanovic, who goes into the tackle with two feet, sending the Fulham man tumbling to the groud in apparent agony. The tackle is a fine one as he won the ball, but you are always risking it when going in with two feet now and Ivanovic gets a yellow card.
19 minKaragounis whips a vicious ball into the box, but it is straight at Cech who holds it. Any touch in front of the keeper would have posed Chelsea with some serious problems there.
21 minRiise hacks Hazard's legs away from underneath him, gifting Chelsea a free kick in a good crossing position. They choose to play it short, however, and the ball ends up going all the way back to Cech. I'm not sure why they didn't put that one into the box, they have plenty of aerial ability in their side.
22 minSHOT! Patient play from Fulham results in Emanuelson feeding Berbatov on the edge of the box. The Bulgarian, as always, looks to have all the time in the world as he takes a touch and volleys it goalwards, but Terry got in the way to send it out for a corner.
24 minCLOSE! Fulham come close again! Karagounis runs straight at Ivanovic down the flank before cutting inside on to his right foot and curling an effort towards the top corner. Cech is well beaten, but the ball just drops onto the roof of the net. That was not far away.
26 minFor all of Chelsea's attacking prowess, they have not created much going forward so far. Lampard's shot remains the only time that Schwarzer has been called into action, and it is Fulham who look most likely to score at the moment.
27 minThat may some up why they haven't tested Schwarzer much! Moses makes his way down the right and pulls the ball into the box, but there are no blue shirts in the area. Where are they all?!
28 minMoses puts another brilliant cross into the box that is very tough for the defence to deal with, but again no Chelsea player has gambled and a potentially dangerous cross passes harmlessly out for a goal kick.
30 minOh my word, what a goal! This match needed something special and, out of nowhere, David Luiz provides it. The Brazilian picks the ball up about 35 yards from goal before taking a couple of touches and smashes a magnificent effort into the top right corner. That was a real screamer.
32 minFulham have a right to feel a little hard done by there. They have performed very well so far today and have probably been the better team, limiting the Blues going forward as well as threatening in attack themselves. However, they have been undone by a world-class strike, and there is nothing you can do about them.
34 minEnoh wins the ball brilliantly in midfield and shows good strength to hold on to it. He eventually gives it to Berbatov, who is sitting in a central midfield role and the move comes to nothing.
35 minSAVE! Fulham are denied by a fine save by Petr Cech. Emanuelson cuts inside from the left and runs almost the length of the penalty box looking for space to shoot. He eventually does find it and his shot is deflected which makes it even harder for Cech. The Chelsea keeper shows good reactions to get down well and tip it out for a corner, however.
37 minFulham are enjoying a lot of the ball at the moment but are struggling to find a way through the Chelsea defence. Petric hasn't done enough up front so far today and Berbatov needs better support from him if Fulham are to create anything.
39 minHaving said that, Martin Jol will be happy enough with the way his side have responded to going behind. They haven't let it have an impact on the way they are playing and have reverted to exactly how they were before the goal.
40 minCLOSE! Berbatov has his best effort of the match so far, and it isn't far away. Emanuelson fakes a shot before cutting it inside to the Bulgarian, who takes a touch and fires it towards goal with the outside of his boot, only to see it curl just wide.
41 minSAVE! My word, that ball was moving everywhere! Lampard goes for goal from a free kick about 35 yards out and it looks to be straight at Schwarzer. However, it moves so much in the air that the Fulham keeper ends up saving it with his shoulder, and he didn't look like he knew too much about it!
44 minOh that is poor marking from Fulham. There was nothing they could do about the first goal but plenty they could about that one. Mata clips a ball in and Terry has stayed forward and can't believe his luck as he finds himself unmarked in the box and free to header the ball past Schwarzer. Too easy.
44 minYELLOW CARD! Moments after scoring, Terry almost gives away a penalty. He leaves a leg dangling inside the area before pulling it away at the last second. Ruiz sees the leg and stumbles over, asking for a penalty. The ref is right not to award it, but the subsequent yellow for diving is perhaps a bit harsh.
45 minWe will have one minute of added time at Craven Cottage.
8.51pmSo ends a very strange half for Fulham. They have enjoyed a lot of the ball and have been the most threatening going forward, but somehow find themselves 2-0 down at the break. The first goal was a screamer from David Luiz, who found the top corner from all of 35 yards out, while the second was a simple header for John Terry, who had been left unmarked in the box.
8.53pmOther than picking the ball out of the net on those two occasions, however, Schwarzer hasn't had much to do tonight. He has denied Frank Lampard on two occasions, but they were both saves that he would have expected to make. He certainly hasn't been as busy as he was against Aston Villa at the weekend.
8.55pmDespite Fulham seeing plenty of the ball, they haven't tested Cech enough so far. They have come close on a number of occasions, but Cech has only had to make one meaningful save. Ruiz, Karagounis and Berbatov have all seen their shots narrowly miss the target but they will need to be more accurate in the second half if they are to get back into this game.
8.57pmMladen Petric, in particular, is not having a big enough impact on this match. He is making the wrong runs and Berbatov has shown his frustration at his strike partner on a number of occasions already tonight. He has been pretty anonymous throughout.
8.59pmUPDATE: Big news from Upton Park coming up: West Ham have regained the lead against Manchester United! Mohamed Diame has put the Hammers 2-1 up against the league leaders.
9.01pmBack to Craven Cottage, though, and Rafa Benitez will have mixed emotions at half time. His side have been nowhere near their best and the toll of such a packed fixture schedule is starting to become evident. However, they are 2-0 up at the break and Benitez will know, more than anything, that a win is the most important thing tonight. As things stand, Chelsea will be back in third place at the end of this match.
9.03pmRight, the teams are back out onto the field ahead of the second half. Can Fulham drag themselves back into this match?
45 minKICKOFF! Here we go again! Fulham get us back underway at the Cottage.
46 minYELLOW CARD! Senderos becomes the latest player to enter the referee's notebook and he can have no complaints. Moses burst past the centre-back, who brought the winger down with a late sliding tackle.
48 minLuiz tries to clip a long ball forward towards Torres, but it is cut out by Senderos. That was a very ambitious pass, but you can see the confidence oozing through Luiz - and rightly so considering his first half goal.
50 minChelsea have started this half very comfortably. They seem content to let Fulham have the ball, challenging the hosts to try to break their defence down. So far, Fulham have shown no signs of doing that.
51 minThat's much better from Petric. He makes a run down the left and shows good strength and skill to turn away from two men before putting a decent ball into the box. It goes all the way through, though, and from the resulting cross Chelsea clear it behind for a corner.
53 minBoth teams have a man down at the moment after a clash of heads. Emanuelson and Hazard both takes some time to recover, but they should both be able to continue.
55 minTorres does very well to get in front of Hangeland and collect Luiz's pass. His touch takes the ball around the Fulham defender and Torres shows good strength to retain possession before winning a free kick. Hangeland is perhaps lucky to get away without a card for that foul.
57 minChelsea pour forward in numbers and Hazard has a good chance to pick a pass. He has Moses, Ramires and Torres in support, but his attempted pass is poor and runs out for a goal kick.
58 minCLOSE! Mata is inches away from connecting with a cross and making it 3-0! Lampard does well under pressure on the edge of the box, getting the ball out to Torres on the right. The Spanish striker fizzes a cross right along the face of goal, but it is marginally too heavy for his compatriot Mata at the back post.
60 minThe Chelsea fans have been singing "We are the champions, champions of Europe" non-stop for what must be coming up to 10 minutes now! They are determined to enjoy it for the month or so they have left as Champions League holders.
61 minThat's a better run from Petric. Riether whips a low ball towards the near post, where Petric is waiting, but Terry slides in to make a last-gasp interception. He ball ricochets off Petric after Terry's touch and goes out for a goal kick.
63 minUPDATE: Manchester United have equalised against West Ham once again! It is now 2-2 at Upton Park courtesy of Robin van Persie's strike. Still 0-0 between Man City and Wigan.
64 minSHOT! Back at Craven Cottage, Petric picks up the ball on the edge of the area and listens to the crowd, who urge him to "shoooooooooot". Perhaps they will think twice next time he gets the ball as his effort is sliced well wide.
65 minChelsea have three bites at the cherry there, but on each occasion a Fulham man is there to block the shot. Moses plays it out to Lampard, whose first effort is going a long way wide before it is blocked. It falls to Torres, whose acrobatic effort hits a white shirt and falls to Lampard again, but his shot is deflected into the arms of Schwarzer.
66 minFULHAM SUB: This is an attacking sub from Martin Jol, which suggests that he thinks his side can still get something out of this one. Hugo Rodallega replaces John-Arne Riise.
67 minChelsea knock the ball about on the edge of the area and Mata looks set to shoot until Enoh bulldozes through the back of the Spaniard. Somehow the ref has ruled that as a fair challenge, though!
68 minCHELSEA SUB: It's a like for like change for Chelsea as Oscar comes on to replace Eden Hazard, who hasn't been at his best tonight.
69 minCHANCE! Wow! Senderos latches on to a corner and sends his header towards the bottom corner. It looks all set to bring Fulham back into the match but it is cleared off the line...by his own player. Petric tries to turn it in to get his own name on the scoresheet but skies it from virtually underneath the crossbar. Some blushes are spared by the offside flag, but that is still one of the worst misses I have ever seen.
70 minSAVE! Moses cuts inside and sends a curling strike that looks destined for the bottom corner until Schwarzer makes a brilliant diving save to tip it wide.
72 minThat is game over. Fernando Torres rises highest to meet a corner and his header is going in before Terry sticks his neck out to add the finishing touch over the line. Torres's header may have been cleared, so Terry did the right thing by making sure there. The Chelsea skipper is on a hat-trick now!
74 minUPDATE: Manchester City have finally broken the deadlock against Wigan, Carlos Tevez giving his side the lead in the closing stages.
75 minCHELSEA SUB: Ramires will have a rest for the final 15 minutes of this one. He is replaced by John Obi Mikel, who will join Lampard in the centre of midfield.
76 minFULHAM SUB: Jol responds with a change of his own as veteran Karagounis makes way for the youth of Emmanuel Frimpong.
78 minThat third goal has really killed this game off as a contest. Fulham haven't tested Cech enough and they don't look likely to start in the remaining 10 minutes or so.
80 minCHELSEA SUB:Juan Mata's night is over as he is replaced by Demba Ba. Mata has played over 60 games for club and country this year so Benitez will want to give him as much rest as possible.
81 minFULHAM SUB: Jol makes his final change of the night as Petric makes way for Kerim Frei. It didn't really happen for Petric tonight as he struggled to link up with Berbatov.
83 minUPDATE: The night's other two Premier League fixtures are over. Manchester City have beaten Wigan 1-0 courtesy of a Carlos Tevez strike, while Manchester United could only manage a 2-2 draw against West Ham.
85 minFulham win the ball in midfield and for a brief moment look to have a break on, but Chelsea get back so quickly that this opening is closed down. Fulham keep hold of the ball for a while longer but, as has been the case for much of the night, they can't break through.
87 minThis match is just waiting for the final whistle now. The away fans are the only ones making any noise and both sides look a bit flat. They both knew that the game was over as soon as the third goal went in.
90 minThere will be four minutes of added time at Craven Cottage. Is there still time for another goal in this one?
90+1 minFulham have a free kick in a very promising position here, and Rodallega has a chance to finally give the home fans something to shout about...
90+2 min...but his strike hits his own man as Bryan Ruiz gets in the way. That is unfortunate as it looked like a good effort.
9.54pmThe referee finally puts Fulham out of their misery, and it is a comfortable win for Chelsea in the end. Fulham made a decent start to the match but didn't create enough going forward. Luiz's wonder goal just before the half hour mark set the Blues on their way, and the three points were confirmed by a John Terry brace.
9.56pmThe win lifts Chelsea back into third in the table, leapfrogging Arsenal who they now lead by one point with a game in hand. The Blues are now in the driving seat for a Champions League spot at the end of this season as they sit three points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham.
9.58pmAs far as Fulham are concerned, their woeful record against Chelsea continues and they remain in mid-table mediocrity. I said before the game that reaching the 40-point mark could take some of the meaning out of this game and, for parts of tonight's match, that looked to be the case for Martin Jol's side.
10pmRight, that's it from me tonight! Thank you for joining Sports Mole for what turned out to be a very comfortable night for Chelsea as they cruised to a 3-0 win over Fulham in the West London derby. I will leave you with Jack Prescott's match report, and be sure to stick around for match analysis, which will be on site within half an hour. Good night!