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Chelsea V Fulham at Stamford Bridge : Match Preview

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Updated 28 Nov 2012 16:27:15

Chelsea V Fulham at Stamford Bridge : Match Preview

Chelsea V Fulham - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Benitez stands firm

Rafael Benitez refuses to bow to pressure to apologise for his controversial comments about Chelsea as he prepared to run the gauntlet with their fans again.

Blues supporters called for their new manager to say sorry for what they perceive as criticism of them while he was in charge at Liverpool.

Benitez endured a savage reception upon his introduction as Chelsea boss in Sunday's Barclays Premier League draw against Manchester City and fan groups have suggested there will be no let up in Wednesday's west London derby with Fulham.

The chair of Chelsea Supporters' Group said an apology would help win over some fans but, as during his unveiling on Thursday, Benitez questioned the accuracy of some of the quotes attributed to him.

"The problem is we can analyse what I said and didn't say," he said.

"We can't be checking if it's true or not. I'll try my best to win their trust. That's it."

Benitez admitted he did not know whether there would be a repeat of the vicious booing, chanting and placards that were directed at him on Sunday.

"To be fair, I don't know," he said. "But I can say that, since coming here, I've worked really hard, coming in at 8.30am and leaving at 8.30 at night, doing my job, talking to players and staff and trying to be ready for the game."

Such abuse cannot be nice but Benitez added: "I can't worry if I'm upset or not.

"If it was a player, I'd be telling him to concentrate on his job. The best way to change things is to win games."

Gary Cahill has recovered from illness and is in contention.

Defender Cahill was only able to start on the bench in Benitez's first game in charge, but he could return for the Spaniard's second Barclays Premier League at the helm.

Daniel Sturridge is close to returning from a hamstring injury, while John Terry (knee) and Frank Lampard (calf) are also progressing.

Fulham manager Martin Jol believes the clash is a "must-win game" for Chelsea and his under-fire counterpart.

The Dutchman said of the fans' reaction to Benitez: "I don't think I have experienced it before in my career, but of course, in England he was at Liverpool, a big club.

"He said probably a few things about Chelsea and I have done that in the past because you are like a chameleon.

"You get the colours of the club you are at and that is what he did so I think after a couple of wins I feel he will win them over.

"It is not only about the manager, it is about the club and winning games.

"Hopefully he won't start tomorrow. I feel it is a must-win game for them. They have to probably win, to have a result, tomorrow otherwise that will be problematic."

Captain Brede Hangeland is one of a number of key players missing for the Cottagers.

The Norway international serves the second of a three-match ban at Stamford Bridge and is joined on the sidelines by Alex Kacaniklic, Bryan Ruiz and Kieran Richardson (all hamstring).

Simon Davies (hip) remains out but Jol can call upon Kerim Frei after a loan spell at Cardiff.


PA

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