Preview: Fulham vs. Chelsea
An intriguing West London derby takes place in the Premier League on Thursday evening, as Fulham play host to Chelsea at Craven Cottage.
Marco Silva’s side remarkably find themselves three places and three points better off than their near neighbours in the standings, albeit having played a game more.
In recent times, very rarely have Fulham fans been able to proudly say that their beloved team occupies a higher position in the English football pyramid than Chelsea, but the Cottagers are firmly in the European mix after a wonderful streak of festive form.
Since returning from the World Cup break, Crystal Palace, Southampton and Leicester City have all fallen to Fulham’s superiority in the Premier League, and Hull City were no match for a rotated Cottagers side in the FA Cup at the weekend.
Strikes from Layvin Kurzawa and Daniel James either side of the half-time whistle secured a 2-0 win and a place in the fourth round for Fulham – where they will host Sunderland – and Silva’s side enter Thursday’s capital clash sitting pretty in seventh place in the top-flight table, just five points below fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur.
Now aiming to win four consecutive top-flight matches for the first time since the 1965-66 season, Fulham prepare for a gruelling run of January fixtures versus Chelsea, Newcastle United and Tottenham before also making the journey to Stamford Bridge for another meeting with the Blues in early February.
Despite posting just two home defeats all season long so far, Fulham have hardly defined consistency at Craven Cottage – winning just two of their last six in front of their own fans – but their situation is certainly a more favourable one than their out-of-sorts opponents.
There is seemingly no immediate danger of under-fire Chelsea boss Graham Potter being given the boot, but while the Englishman’s project is still struggling to take off, disgruntled Blues supporters made their feelings crystal clear during their FA Cup elimination at the hands of Manchester City.
Three days prior, Chelsea had given the English champions a good run for their money in a 1-0 Premier League defeat at Stamford Bridge, but City simply tore the Blues to shreds on Sunday, as Riyad Mahrez bagged a brace alongside Phil Foden and Julian Alvarez’s efforts in a 4-0 romping.
Those who braved the journey to the Etihad Stadium and stayed until the last bellowed out Thomas Tuchel and Roman Abramovich’s names as Potter’s slippery slope continues, and any positive energy emanating from early January transfer business is counting for little.
Fighting to even salvage their European status let alone a place in the Champions League, Chelsea lie smack-bang in the middle of the Premier League table in 10th place, coincidentally 10 points adrift of the top four and 10 clear of the relegation zone.
With an abysmal five defeats on their record from their last seven competitive games in all competitions, Chelsea also make the short journey to Craven Cottage with only one win from their last eight in the Premier League, and not since beating Aston Villa on October 16 have they claimed all three points on the road.
On a brighter note, Chelsea have a seven-game winning run against Fulham to protect on Thursday – as well as 21-game unbeaten run in all tournaments – but as Potter has quickly learned, all good things must come to an end.
Fulham Premier League form:
Fulham form (all competitions):
Chelsea Premier League form:
Chelsea form (all competitions):
We say: Fulham 1-1 Chelsea
The youthful nature of Chelsea’s backline at the Etihad must be taken into account here, and even with their plethora of injury and confidence problems, Potter’s side still gave Man City a scare or two in top-flight action.
Historical results versus Fulham may not count for much given the Cottagers’ own European-worthy exploits this term, and we can envisage the capital counterparts cancelling each other out on Thursday.