Chelsea's 'slow' start picking up speed

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Chelsea's so-called slow start may pick up some speed this weekend.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:37 IST
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Chelsea's so-called slow start may pick up some speed this weekend. A point behind league-leading Portsmouth, the Blues play on Saturday at local rival Fulham, a club weakened by injury and embarrassed by a midweek League Cup loss to Wycombe - which plays three levels below the Premier League. Fulham has five midfielders out with injuries, although Papa Bouba Diop may return to boost that position. "Before we start thinking about a team for Chelsea we have to see what bodies are available," Fulham manager Chris Coleman said. Chelsea has edged into the season, trying to give players rest after the World Cup. All of Chelsea's starters played in Germany. "Preseason was a bit of a rush, but there is nothing like playing games, and we have certainly done that over the last few weeks," midfielder Frank Lampard said. "We are happy to have a long week with no midweek games. It has come at a good time for us to work hard. "We have been able to work tactically the last couple of days. We haven't had that chance before and the new players have only really been able to train with us the day before games." Manchester United also trails Portsmouth by a point and will be the clear favorite on Saturday at newly promoted Reading. Of the three promoted teams, Reading has been the most impressive - three victories in five games. Reading as been so successful that team officials are planning to add at least 10,000 seats to Madejski Stadium, expanding the capacity from 24,000. "We don't know what capacity it will be exactly, and what else will be involved, but it's the direction we're heading in," chief executive Nigel Howe said. Victories by Chelsea and United would put the pressure on Portsmouth, which plays Monday at home against Bolton. The two managers in the game - Bolton's Sam Allardyce and Portsmouth's Harry Redknapp - could be distracted. Both were implicated in a BBC TV program aired Tuesday looking at illegal payments in player transfers in English soccer. Allardyce and Kevin Bond, Redknapp's former assistant, are taking legal action against the BBC. (AP)