WITH Chelsea on the brink of their first league visit to Loftus Road in 15 years, boss Andre Villas-Boas has appeared to suggest he considers Fulham to be the Blues' real local rivals rather than QPR.
Chelsea's visit to their Shepherds Bush neighbours tomorrow will be their first in the Premier League since the 1996.
But passions run high between supporters of the two sides, and two cup games in the intervening years have been the focus of fierce opposition both inside and outside the grounds.
Today, Villas-Boas set the cat among the west London pigeons by indicating that Craven Cottage is where he sees the fiercest local rivalry, rather than Loftus Road.
Asked how the Chelsea-QPR rivalry compared with that between Manchester United and City, who also go head-to-head on Sunday, he said: “It has different expressions. I think it’s up to the fanbase to decide the extent of the west London rivalry.
“There is no way that Fulham can be put out of the question, as they are the main west London rivals.
“There’s a sense of pride within a derby like that. The main thing is that Manchester derby plays up to this importance because of their importance in the Premier League.”
Asked by the Chronicle if he was saying he considered Fulham to be bigger local rivals than QPR, Villas-Boas (a Porto fan since he was a boy) said: “If this was a Porto interview, I could say which club were the fiercest rivals.
“I’m not a Chelsea fan, so I can’t make a decision on which is more important in west London.”