Preview: Chelsea vs. Fulham

Preview: Chelsea vs. Fulham

The FedEx Field in Maryland plays host to an all-Premier League friendly on Sunday evening, as West London rivals Chelsea and Fulham square off in the Summer Series.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side were held to a 1-1 draw by Newcastle United during their most recent showdown, while the Cottagers were sunk 2-0 by Aston Villa.

Chelsea’s new boys have stolen the show during the Blues’ United States stopover, as after netting alongside Christopher Nkunku in a 4-3 success over Brighton & Hove Albion, Nicolas Jackson continued his fine start to life under Pochettino during Wednesday’s clash with Newcastle.

The former Villarreal man needed just 12 minutes to propel Chelsea into the lead in Atlanta, but with seconds remaining in the first half, Miguel Almiron pegged the Blues back and ensured that Newcastle would rescue a draw against their capital counterparts.

Yet to lose since taking the Chelsea reins, Pochettino oversaw a pair of triumphs versus Wrexham and Brighton before a respectable stalemate against Champions League opposition, giving the Stamford Bridge faithful reason for optimism if pre-season exploits are a sign of things to come.

Having exclusively faced British opponents so far, Chelsea will wrap up their pre-season tour against Borussia Dortmund in Chicago next month following Sunday’s affair with Fulham, before Liverpool provides a baptism of fire in the 2023-24 Premier League.

As the Blues try and fail to appease Brighton with their offers for Ecuadorian midfielder Moises Caicedo, the youthful Andrey Santos and Cesare Casadei continue to earn valuable first-team opportunities in pre-season, alongside exciting winger Ian Maatsen.

Fulham has already locked horns with one of their London rivals in the shape of Brentford during the ongoing Premier League Summer Series, besting the Bees 3-2 in their pre-season opener, but they were brought crashing back down to earth against Europa Conference League-bound Villa.

Taking on the side who nabbed the seventh and final continental qualification spot in the 2022-23 Premier League season, Marco Silva’s side came up short in Orlando, as Jaden Philogene-Bidace and Villa new boy Moussa Diaby propelled the Lions to a straightforward 2-0 win.

An 80-minute delay to kickoff due to thunderstorms did not help matters for Villa or Fulham, whose head coach Silva bemoaned his side’s lack of playing staff after the game, as the Aleksandar Mitrovic saga threatens to disrupt the Cottagers’ preparations.

Amid claims that Mitrovic has vowed to never wear the Fulham shirt again, the Cottagers have dipped into their cash reserves to hire ex-Wolverhampton Wanderers man Raul Jimenez, who was unveiled on Orlando soil before Silva’s side fell to Villa’s superiority.

Fulham now renew hostilities with West London adversaries Chelsea after edging past the Blues 2-1 at Craven Cottage only six months ago, as Willian returned to haunt his former club, before Silva’s side also came away from Stamford Bridge with a point in a goalless draw a few weeks later.

Chelsea friendly form:

Fulham friendly form:

We say: Chelsea 2-0 Fulham
Fulham may have avoided defeat in both of their Premier League contests with Chelsea last season, but a spate of injuries and a distinct lack of depth should cost Silva’s side dear in Maryland.

Chelsea is hardly blessed with a fully-fit contingent either, but Pochettino’s attackers have gelled well in the United States and should help propel their side to a routine win.

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