Inside Stamford Bridge

Friday 20 September 2013 09:00

Chelsea season ticket holder Martyn Landi gives us the lowdown on his side and previews the first SW6 derby of the campaign.

First off, the consensus was extremely positive regarding Jose Mourinho’s return in the summer. Were you pleased to see him back?

Absolutely. Not only for what he's achieved in the past with us and in general, but because the atmosphere around the place was horrible last season. Jose is a standard around which we can all gather and in the long run that can only make us a more difficult team to face. He's got the CV and the connection with the fans; on paper it's all there. We'll have to see what the season brings.

What would you categorise as a successful campaign for Chelsea this season?

My heart would say we have to aim to win the title, but given the iffy start I think third would be good, and splitting up the Manchester monopoly even better. Jose loves a trophy so a run in both the domestic competitions would be hoped for and anywhere around the Quarter-Finals of the UEFA Champions League. 

We saw some more big spending over the summer – what have you made of your new signings so far?

Well for starters, with the exception of Samuel Eto'o, they're all very young which is a bit of a shift in our transfer policy generally under Roman Abramovich. Marco van Ginkel hasn't featured much yet but had a good Under-21 European Championship and looks a good passer of the ball deeper in midfield. I think Andre Schurrle and Kevin De Bruyne will both be very popular once they bed in because of their pace and directness, and Willian has got good strength and Brazilian flair to go with it. As individuals they're great, the problem is we now have six attacking midfielders for only three spaces, and they're all very similar. There isn't much of a Plan B.

We’ve also seen a Fulham favourite added to your ranks – Whites fans will tell you you’ve got a quality number two in Mark Schwarzer.

This surprised us as much as you guys, I'm sure. He'll play the cup games but I imagine that'll be it. In fairness to Mark, he's been a fantastic keeper for years so to have Petr Cech and the younger keepers working with him every day can only be a good thing in my eyes.

You’ve hit a bit of a rocky patch already some might say, so how do you see Saturday’s game going?

I'm not expecting a fantastic spectacle, to be honest. We are very stop-start at the moment and Fulham haven't got going either. The pressures of a derby tend to tighten things up so I'd expect a cagey game. Of course an early goal would make a difference, drawing Fulham out and opening space up for the likes of Eden Hazard, Juan Mata, Willian or Oscar to exploit. The problem is our team is built in such a way that we don't like the opposition compact and behind the ball. And, of course, that's exactly what teams like to do at Stamford Bridge.

What have you made of Fulham so far this season?

I liked the business Martin Jol did in the summer; bringing in the likes of Scott Parker to sure up midfield and even Adel Taarabt because of that flash of brilliance he can produce. On paper that's a very good midfield now and Dimitar Berbatov up front always gives you a chance, although he might miss out this weekend through injury. I’m slightly surprised you've only picked up four points so far, but I think it's more a slow start than anything more serious.

Which Fulham players are you most wary of?

I think Alexander Kačaniklić is becoming a real prospect, and Berbatov is always a menace around the box. Then you’ve got the Chelsea old boys in Damien Duff and Steve Sidwell who will be up for proving a point or two.

Talking of former Chelsea players, can Duff, Sidwell and Parker expect warm welcomes?

Duff can in particular. He was wonderful to watch in a front three with Arjen Robben and Didier Drogba and we have great memories of his time with us. Sidwell gave his all while he was here and that's all we can ask for. Scottie Parker will be an interesting one given his association with a certain North London club whose name we won't mention.

The SW6 derby is a game that Fulham fans relish – they’ve thrown up some decent encounters in recent years and are never a foregone conclusion are they?

Not at all. This is strange derby as Chelsea fans have never really taken it seriously. That's nothing against Fulham - I remember a group of Chelsea fans on the tube recently marvelling at how years ago if they couldn't get to our away game one week they would go to Fulham back when you were in the lower leagues. For some it feels like turning on the second team they've had for years. Obviously you guys have always hated us so it does make for a strange atmosphere and that often translates onto the pitch. The 3-2 win for Chelsea on Boxing Day back in 2005 being the perfect example; we were cruising then let a very determined Fulham back in until Hernan Crespo did his thing.

What’s the best and worst thing about a trip to Stamford Bridge?

The atmosphere remains a pain and that’s the worst thing. The passion is lacking on two-and-a-half sides of the stadium. The best thing, as I'm sure Fulham fans will agree with, is the setting; SW6 is one of the best places you could ever go to watch football.

What’s one song that we’re bound to hear on Saturday?

The inevitable chorus of 'Jose Mourinho' even though he waves at us and tells us to stop doing it. 

Where’s a good place for an away fan to get a pint before the game?

You guys know them all already, I'm sure - it's only down the road!

Score prediction?

I'll go for a cagey 2-1 Chelsea win.

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