Chelsea will be aiming to return to winning ways in the Premier League when they lock horns with London rivals Fulham this weekend.
After a promising start to the season, things haven’t gone according to plans for Chelsea in the Premier League. And they will be hoping to correct their course and get back to winning ways when they make the short trip to Craven Cottage to take on Fulham in a London Derby.
Chelsea have lost four of their last six Premier League games, with their most recent top-flight encounter ending in a disappointing 3-1 defeat to Manchester City, which has seen them drop to ninth place in the table, six points off of Leicester City in fourth place. However, the 4-0 win in the FA Cup tie against Morecambe will have provided them with some confidence ahead of Saturday’s fixture.
Fulham, meanwhile, have found a system and combination of players that is slowly but surely helping them push towards safety. Scott Parker’s men are on a six-game unbeaten run in all competitions, securing five consecutive draws in the league, including one in their latest fixture against Tottenham. Currently 18th in the table, two points below safety, the Cottagers will be hoping to continue their solid run of form.
The last time these two sides met in a Premier League game was in March 2019, with Chelsea triumphing 2-1 courtesy goals from Gonzalo Higuain and Jorginho while Calum Chambers scored for Fulham. Ahead of their latest clash on Saturday evening, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Fulham boss, and former Chelsea midfielder, Scott Parker will have to deal with the absence of three players on Saturday with Tom Cairney and Mario Lemina ruled out with injuries while Chelsea loanee Ruben Loftus-Cheek is ineligible to play against his parent club.
In addition, Aleksandar Mitrovic is also an injury doubt and will be put through a late fitness test to determine his availability. Despite playing within three days of their last game, the manager is unlikely to make any notable personnel changes on Saturday evening. Alphonse Areola, who has been very impressive in goal for Fulham, is an undisputed starter.
Former Chelsea man Ola Aina will start in the three-man defence alongside Joachim Andersen and Tosin Adarabioyo. Even though the Chelsea forward line hasn’t been in top form of late, the Cottagers’ defence will have their task cut out due to the sheer quality that they possess.
Kenny Tete should continue as the right wing-back for Fulham while Antonee Robinson is a certain starter for the hosts on the opposite flank. Both the wing-backs, though, will have to be wary of Reece James and Ben Chilwell, who will look to maraud forward at every given chance.
Harrison Reed will hold the fort in the middle of the park and look to cut out Chelsea’s creative influence through the centre. He will have support from the brilliant Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, who will also have the added responsibility of driving the team forward when in possession.
With no Lemina and Loftus-Cheek, there could be a slight tweak in the system, with Parker switching to a 3-4-2-1 instead of the 3-5-2 that he employed last time out. Bobby Reid and Ademola Lookman ought to be the two attacking midfielders, with the latter being given the freedom to buzz around in the final third to trouble Chelsea. Ivan Cavaleiro should be the striker for Fulham.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Areola; Aina, Andersen, Adarabioyo; Tete, Reed, Anguissa, Robinson; Reid, Lookman; Cavaleiro
Unlike their opponents, Chelsea do not have any major injury concerns heading into the game. However, star midfielder N’Golo Kante will miss out due to suspension for accumulation of cards. Reece James and Andreas Christensen are available for selection after missing the last game due to injury.
Frank Lampard will once again look to set his team up in a 4-3-3 formation, but there will be changes made to the team that defeated Morecambe in the FA Cup last time out. Edouard Mendy should return in goal while James and Ben Chilwell ought to slot in as the two full-backs, who will have the license to bomb forward at every given opportunity.
Kurt Zouma should start again at the heart of the Blues’ defence but will have regular partner Thiago Silva back for this game. The movement and pace of the likes of Ademola Lookman and Ivan Cavaleiro can prove to be tricky for the duo to deal with on Sunday, while they will also need to be at their best in set-piece situations.
Billy Gilmour impressed in the last game but is likely to make way for Jorginho at the base of the Chelsea midfield. The Italian’s range of distribution could come in handy to open up a stubborn Fulham backline. The forward thrust from the centre will be provided by the duo of Mason Mount and Kai Havertz.
Hakim Ziyech, who has been a brilliant addition for Chelsea, will look to cause problems cutting in from the right-wing. His combination play, with the marauding James in particular, is something that Fulham will need to watch out for. Callum Hudson-Odoi should start on the left flank after impressing in the FA Cup tie while Timo Werner gets the nod through the centre.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Mendy; James, Zouma, Silva, Chilwell; Havertz, Jorginho, Mount; Ziyech, Werner, Hudson-Odoi
- Under 2.5 Match Goals @ 2.00
- Full-Time Result – Draw @ 4.33
- Chelsea have managed to keep just two clean sheets in their last eight Premier League fixtures. However, both of them came in London derbies against Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United.
- Fulham have lost just one of their last eight games in all competitions and are unbeaten in the previous six in a row (W2 D5).
- Chelsea’s tally of 32 goals in the Premier League this season is only bettered by two teams – Manchester United (34) and Liverpool (37). Fulham, meanwhile, have netted only 14 goals this term, with only three clubs – Sheffield United (9), Burnley (9) and West Brom (11) scoring fewer.
- Since a 1-0 defeat in March 2006 at Craven Cottage, Chelsea are unbeaten in their 19 subsequent meetings against Fulham across all competitions, winning the last five in a row.
- Chelsea have lost four of their last six Premier League fixtures (W1 D1), as many as they had in their previous 23 in the competition (W14 D5).
Player to Watch
Timo Werner: first goal in 64 days
Kai Havertz: first goal in 85 days
Chelsea’s big summer signings break their drought 💥 pic.twitter.com/4xyKLyu88F
— B/R Football (@brfootball) January 10, 2021
It took a while, but the German international finally ended his 827-minute goal drought when he found the back of the net against Morecambe in the FA Cup tie last weekend. While his overall performance against the lower league outfit wasn’t much to write home about, the goal will have boosted Werner’s confidence a great deal.
Having brought an end to his rut in front of goal, it becomes very crucial for the former RB Leipzig man to kick on and put together a solid goal-scoring run as Chelsea look to move upwards in the Premier League table. However, a resolute Fulham backline will not make things easy for him on Saturday. A big test awaits Werner at Craven Cottage.
Fulham 1-1 Chelsea
Fulham might be still in the relegation zone heading into the gameweek but have turned into a formidable defensive unit that has now managed to thwart the likes of Leicester City, Liverpool, Southampton and most recently, Tottenham. With just one defeat in eight games in all competitions, confidence will be high among the Cottagers.
Chelsea, on the other hand, did well in the game against Morecambe, but have been failing to produce the goods in the Premier League. The Blues have won just one of their last six league outings (D1 L4), with their expensively-assembled attack failing to deliver against teams that sit deep and defend.
While Hakim Ziyech’s availability should help them create chances they have lacked the clinical nature to make them count. And, that is why we at The Hard Tackle are predicting this London Derby in a 1-1 stalemate, putting further pressure on manager Frank Lampard.