There are a host of derbies taking place this weekend in the Premier League. The one set to happen at Stamford Bridge won’t be one of the most hotly anticipated, but there are some interesting sub-plots. Claudio Ranieri will be taking his Fulham team to face one of his former clubs. Meanwhile, Chelsea will be looking to bounce back from an embarrassing defeat to Tottenham.
The Blues were considered contenders for the Premier League, but last weekend was a stark reminder of the work that is still to be done at Stamford Bridge. Maurizio Sarri wasn’t given a complete summer and his lack of preparation time has hindered him somewhat. This weekend provides a good opportunity to win against a team that has shipped a lot of goals. Concerns will increase if they fail to take three points.
Fulham supporters weren’t completely on board with the sacking of Slavisa Jokanovic. However, Claudio Ranieri got off to the perfect start with three points in his opening game in charge. Southampton weren’t the sternest test, but the victory has generated momentum. There is no doubting the talent within the squad and it could be that one win was all that was required to improve confidence within the dressing room. They have nothing to lose on Sunday and that is sometimes a good thing.
Callum Hudson-Odoi became the youngest player to score for an English team in the Europa League since the competition was rebranded in 2009.
Fulham have conceded two or more goals in 15 of their last 17 Premier League fixtures. It’s clear that the defence is the area of concern for Ranieri to address.
There was a lot of excitement regarding Eden Hazard at the beginning of the season. The supporters were delighted that the club managed to hold on to their prized asset and he delivered some excellent performances on the pitch. The Belgian has contributed 7 goals and 4 assists in 12 matches to date. He is averaging a goal contribution every 79.4 minutes. The Belgian’s recent form had been underwhelming as he recovers from various niggly injuries, but he remains the key man in this Chelsea team. Sarri will know that his team’s results correlate closely to the form of his star attacker. The defensive woes of Fulham could provide Hazard with an opportunity to return to form and he has to take it ahead of the festive period.
Aleksandar Mitrovic has been a revelation since joining Fulham at the beginning of the calendar year. Without him, it is unlikely that they would have gained promotion. Now, he is central to the club’s survival hopes. There were fears that he wouldn’t suit Ranieri, but a brace last weekend put those to rest and he looks set to continue in his current role as the team’s main goal threat. Chelsea have been vulnerable during recent weeks with David Luiz continuing to make basic errors with regularity. Mitrovic will be looking to capitalise on one of those at Stamford Bridge. His goal earlier in the year against Tottenham at Wembley will give him confidence that he can make an impact.
Eden Hazard is expected to start after missing out on the Europa League victory with a knock. Olivier Giroud is pushing for a start after his recent form. A lot of changes will be made to the team that won in the week.
Kevin McDonald and Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa will be missing for the visitors. Aleksandar Mitrovic is expected to continue leading the line after his two-goal display last weekend.
It will be a more difficult test for Chelsea now that their former manager Claudio Ranieri is in charge of Fulham. There is a lot of talent in the visiting dressing room and they will have a new lease of life under the new manager. That said, the Blues should have more than enough to win the contest. A return to winning ways in the league will set them up for the Christmas period.
Chelsea 3-1 Fulham