Chelsea Football Club Part Four

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Journey Man

Fulham may have found inspiration from Elvis - but Chelsea still rocked Chris Coleman's side with a late Carling Cup quarter-final winner as goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar was left red-faced.
Frank Lampard came off the bench to help Chelsea into the last four, although he undeniably owed a huge debt of gratitude to van der Sar.

The Dutch international, recalled only because of an injury to Mark Crossley, allowed the England midfielder’s shot to slip through his grasp with just three minutes left.

Having earlier been beaten by a deflected shot from Damien Duff, not even the introduction of substitute Elvis Hammond - who set up Brian McBride’s equaliser - could save Fulham from defeat.

The hosts at least regained a measure of pride following their 4-1 Barclays Premiership defeat by Chelsea just over two weeks ago.

But this was a Chelsea side with six changes to the line-up which stormed past Charlton Athletic in the league last weekend.

Chelsea's 'reserves’ - the likes of Carlo Cudicini, Scott Parker and Wayne Bridge - could walk into most first teams in this country.

Fulham, meanwhile, clearly heeded Coleman’s pre-match warning that “if we show any fear they will rip us apart�.

They started positively as Mark Pembridge’s shot was deflected wide by Ricardo Carvalho, while Andy Cole flicked a header just past the far post.

Cole’s cross also just eluded McBride as the ball flashed across the face of goal, and Pembridge drove another effort over the top.

With Sylvain Legwinski also hitting a long-range shot just wide, it was the quarter-hour mark before Chelsea started to stem the attacking tide.

Didier Drogba, making his first start in almost two months after injury, was being caught offside too easily.

Rather predictably, it was therefore left to the impressive Arjen Robben to provide the Blues’ inspiration - with Bridge also pushing forward from left-back.

Having switched flanks with Duff, Robben jinked effortlessly past Pembridge and let fly with a 25-yard shot from a tight angle which van der Sar had to dive full-length to parry.

Left-back Carlos Bocanegra managed to block his next advance and escaped punishment despite seeming to push the Dutchman inside the penalty area - but Chelsea were slowly increasing their pressure.

Fulham rallied briefly, Pembridge’s volley saved by Cudicini and Cole almost bursting through.

Chelsea began the second half with renewed vigour.

After he had blasted one shot well wide, Duff’s embarrassment was spared by a flag for offside as he hit the outside of the post from point-blank range after van der Sar parried Glen Johnson’s long-range shot.

Chelsea were nevertheless relieved to see referee Steve Dunn wave away appeals for a penalty when Pembridge’s shot appeared to strike Johnson on the arm.

Once they had been spared by Cole clipping the outside of the post with a free header, the Blues duly seized the lead - albeit with a stroke of good fortune.

Robben laid the ball sideways to Duff, but van der Sar looked to have his snap-shot covered until it took a wicked deflection off Ian Pearce.

While Mourinho removed Drogba and Robben, Fulham rallied - with Papa Bouba Diop’s header landing on top of the bar.

But it was not until the arrival of 24-year-old Hammond - a Ghanaian-born Fulham youth product, replacing Cole with 17 minutes left - that the hosts finally came to life.

Just a minute later, Hammond sped on to Steed Malbranque’s pass and - having reached the byline - delivered an inviting cross for McBride to steer his shot past Cudicini.

Mourinho duly looked to Lampard for some inspiration, replacing Duff - and the midfielder came up trumps as van der Sar allowed his 20-yard shot through his grasp.
Robben yet to score :D How much server space are you going to dedicate to Chelsea? Ok - I do like them.... erm, maybe a little, but by season's end the Gunners will be laughing the loudest (maybe a little)....
Not even half way through yet Ryan! Remember Arsenal coming from 11 points back to overtake Utd. a few years back? I'm still confident the mighty Gunners will win.

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