Fulham V Chelsea at Craven Cottage : Match Preview
08 April 2012 02:01
Jol facing battle to keep Dempsey
Fulham boss Martin Jol concedes he does not know if he can keep the "unbelievable" Clint Dempsey at Craven Cottage long-term.
Dempsey turned in another outstanding performance with two goals in a comfortable 3-0 win at Bolton in the Barclays Premier League on Saturday.
The versatile American, who struck with a superb long-range free-kick and a firm header, has now scored 21 times in all competitions this term.
With just one more season remaining on the 29-year-old's contract, Fulham accept he could become an attractive target for other clubs and are keen to tie him to a new deal.
Jol said: "I can't foresee the future. We want to keep him and hopefully he wants to stay. We have offered him a very good contract.
"He knows he is very appreciated at our club, so hopefully he will stay. If we want to be a top side we need players who can score more than 20 goals in all competitions.
"I have always had that - I can remember Luis Suarez scoring 53 goals for me at Ajax.
"He's not at that level yet but of course it is a different league and for a wide midfield player who can play up front and score that many goals, it is unbelievable."
Fulham's win consolidated their position in mid-table but they face a quick turnaround as they host neighbours Chelsea.
Jol is keen to build some momentum but is not expecting any let-up from a Chelsea side still challenging on three fronts.
As well as pushing for a top-four position, the Blues have an FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham and a Champions League last-four clash with Barcelona in the coming days.
Jol said: "I feel the league is very important to them and you can focus, of course, on Barcelona, but they are a different team.
"They are playing unbelievable football and I think, of course, they have to focus on the Champions League but they have to focus on the Premier League as well.
"I think they have to look at it game by game and after that you can see what they have achieved."
Fulham will be without forward Bryan Ruiz, who suffered a suspected broken metatarsal at Bolton, but Pavel Pogrebnyak and veteran midfielder Danny Murphy could return after an ankle injury and illness, respectively.
Meanwhile, Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata believes the Blues must have conviction in their own strengths as they continue an exhausting - but successful - run that has seen them close in on the Champions League places.
Roberto Di Matteo's side enjoyed a huge slice of fortune on Saturday to secure victory over struggling Wigan with Mata's stoppage-time strike earning a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea have been blessed with good fortune since caretaker manager Di Matteo took charge, none more so than against the Latics.
Assistant referee Dave Bryan was the latest official to donate to the Chelsea cause, twice failing to raise his flag for goals that replays proved were scored from an offside position.
It was the Blues who appeared to be flagging in their triple quest to secure a top-four place, FA Cup glory and the Holy Grail of the Champions League.
Despite Di Matteo making seven changes, Chelsea again looked leggy after playing twice a week for more than a month.
Playmaker Mata has started all but one game during that period and asked how the Blues could continue to perform after scoring a 93rd-minute winner in what was the first of another six games in 18 days, he said: "With faith, with faith.
"We are in a crucial moment for us. Next week, we are playing in the FA Cup semi-final, Champions League, still fighting for the third and fourth position in the Premier (League).
"The faith, I think, is more important than the muscles or feeling tired. So, we are training well to be ready for Monday."
Di Matteo was checking on the fitness of John Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Ramires, all of whom missed Saturday's game.
If any of the latter trio are fully recovered, they will surely return as Di Matteo continues to rotate his squad.