On Thursday night in the Premier League, Fulham and Chelsea square off in a thrilling West London derby at Craven Cottage.
Despite playing one more game, Marco Silva’s team is astonishingly three spots and three points ahead of their close neighbors in the standings.
Graham Potter, the under-fire Chelsea manager, doesn’t appear to be in immediate danger of losing his job, but although the Englishman’s project is still trying to gain traction, angry Blues fans made their opinions known after their FA Cup defeat at the hands of Manchester City.
Chelsea had given the English champions a fight for their money in a 1-0 Premier League loss at Stamford Bridge three days earlier, but City tore the Blues to pieces on Sunday with goals from Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden, and Julian Alvarez in a 4-0 rout.
While Potter’s downward spiral continues, those who made the arduous trip to the Etihad Stadium and stuck around until the very end yelled out Thomas Tuchel and Roman Abramovich’s names. This shows how little significance can be placed on the early January transfer activity.
Chelsea is currently in 10th place in the Premier League standings, 10 points off the top four and 10 points above the relegation zone. The team is struggling to maintain their European status, let alone qualify for the Champions League.
Chelsea travels to Craven Cottage with only one win in their last eight Premier League games, and they haven’t won all three points away from home since defeating Aston Villa on October 16. They have an appalling five losses in their last seven competitive games overall.
Positively, Chelsea has a seven-game winning streak over Fulham to defend, along with a 21-game unbeaten streak across all competitions, but as Potter has rapidly discovered, all good things must come to an end.
Fulham’s fans wished they could forget the 78th minute of last week’s triumph over Leicester since it resulted in star striker Aleksandar Mitrovic receiving his fifth caution of the year, excluding him from the trip to Chelsea.
Although Neeskens Kebano will continue to be sidelined with an Achilles injury for Thursday’s derby, Shane Duffy hopes to make a comeback after being ill, Silva has no other recent problems to address. Manor Solomon, who joined Fulham from Shakhtar Donetsk recently, made just his second appearance in the team’s colors against Hull. He will be wishing for a more significant role in this match.
Though Silva reintroduces Willian into the final third alongside Mitrovic’s replacement, Carlos Vinicius, Solomon’s chances of starting are little to none.
Ben Chilwell, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Edouard Mendy, N’Golo Kante, Reece James, Armando Broja, or Wesley Fofana are not yet ready to return from their injuries, while Chelsea’s injury list has risen to double digits once more.
Christian Pulisic and Raheem Sterling are also out with injuries they sustained during the week’s match against Man City; the former is expected to be out for a number of weeks; however, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should be able to overcome his back problem in time to make the squad.
David Datro Fofana and Benoit Badiashile can be certain of making their Premier League debuts, albeit most likely as substitutes, given Potter’s options are extremely constrained.
Following their benching at the Etihad, Thiago Silva, Cesar Azpilicueta, Marc Cucurella, and Denis Zakaria are among those expected to make their first XI comebacks.
Leno; Tete, Ream, Adarabioyo, Robinson; Reed, Palhinha; De Cordova-Reid, Pereira, Willian; Vinicius
Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Kepa; Azpilicueta, Koulibaly, Silva, Cucurella; Kovacic, Zakaria, Jorginho; Ziyech, Havertz, Mount