Frank Lampard is likely to start as Chelsea welcome Fulham on Boxing Day after cutting a frustrated figure on the bench in last Thursday’s draw with Tottenham.
The veteran midfielder was an unused substitute at White Hart Lane, but should be restored to the starting line-up in place of Ramires, who picked up his fifth booking of the season and is subsequently banned for the visit of the Cottagers.
Lampard will be vying to make himself an automatic choice again and keep the hosts’ slender title chances alive with a first win in three games and represents decent value to open the scoring at 9/2 or 6/5 to notch at any time.
Fulham’s shaky defence was blown apart by Manchester United in midweek. Although boss Martin Jol will desperately try to regroup, a backline denied the support of injured goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer might easily find itself exposed by a typical Lampard late arrival in the box or long-range efffort.
Lampard has netted seven times against local rivals Fulham throughout his career and is Chelsea’s second top goalscorer this season with seven strikes.
He also has five goals on Boxing Day fixtures – either a fortunate festive coincidence or an indication that the Lampard family enjoy a much finer Christmas diet than some of the taunts opposition fans have directed his way over the years would suggest.
To follow the healthy eating theory, the first stuffing Lampard sees this year might be the one dished out to Fulham. The Cottagers have won just one of the last 30 West London derbies, after all – Lampard is 11/2 to score twice.
Lampard has netted seven times against local rivals Fulham throughout his career and is Chelsea’s second top goalscorer this season with seven strikes. He also has five goals on Boxing Day fixtures.
Daniel Sturridge is certain to attract plenty of money given the scintillating form that has seen him smash five goals in his past six matches. He can be backed at 7/2 to net first.
Fulham’s best hope might be to shock the Blues by hitting the ground running, as Chelsea have conceded a surprising seven times in the opening ten minutes of their last 20 matches.
Andy Johnson has netted a few early goals this season (three inside the first 20 minutes in all competitions) and could attract a cheeky flutter or two at 7/1.
Looking lower down the markets for decent longer-odds options, Chelsea skipper John Terry is an appealing 16/1 to score first.
Terry is Chelsea’s third top scorer this season on four strikes and the chance of him nodding in a crossed set-piece on Boxing Day has surely been enhanced by an impressive display against Tottenham – a reaction to off-field problems with classic on-field determination.
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