Maurizio Sarri is hopeful that Eden Hazard regains his match fitness as Chelsea prepare to take on local rivals Fulham at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

It will be a special occasion for Chelsea, Maurizio Sarri and Claudio Ranieri as the Blues host Fulham on Sunday. The home side will be looking to bounce back from their 3-1 loss to Tottenham last weekend. The prospect could become a little bit daunting, with Eden Hazard still a doubt for Sunday.

The manager will reinstate his first-choice back four that he has established at Chelsea, meaning the likes of Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, David Luiz and Marcos Alonso will return to the starting eleven. Kepa Arrizabalaga will continue in goal for the home side.

In midfield, there are a few issues emanating, with N’Golo Kante’s positioning errors costing Chelsea dearly against Tottenham. Maurizio Sarri highlighted it during the midweek but should not drop the Frenchman. The third spot should be taken up by Ross Barkley, whose upturn in form combined with Mateo Kovacic’s indifferent displays might help Sarri make the decision.

In attack, Eden Hazard is doubtful but Sarri is hopeful of the Belgian being able to be match fit in time to start on Sunday. Willian should start on the right. Pedro could start on the opposite flank, should Hazard be unable to prove his fitness.

But, as far as the lone forward is concerned, we could see Olivier Giroud get the nod, especially after Alvaro Morata’s anonymity against Tottenham last weekend. Giroud did impress against Spurs, scoring Chelsea’s only goal and should start.

The match will be special for Maurizio Sarri, who in many ways considers Claudio Ranieri as a mentor; an inspiration and holds his compatriot in high regard. While Sarri did not highlight any potential lineup changes or fitness issues, he did choose to shed some light on what he thinks of Ranieri’s sides, with Fulham coming to visit on Sunday.

“Usually a team of Claudio is really very solid. They usually defend very well, sometimes low, but very well. Usually he has a team very dangerous at counter-attacks, like in Leicester, but not only in Leicester.”

Chelsea take on Fulham in an early Sunday kickoff at 12:00.

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