Fulham, just three points off the bottom of the Premier League table heading into the weekend’s fixtures, welcome local west London rivals Chelsea to Craven Cottage on Sunday lunchtime. Scott Parker’s side are in desperate need of league points. If they are to have any chance at all of staving off the threat of an immediate return to the Championship after winning promotion last year, they need to win this game.
Chelsea, of course, have had their own issues in recent weeks. Kepa Arrizabalaga could return in goal in place of Willy Caballero, after refusing to be substituted in the League Cup final loss to Manchester City. That incident appeared to undermine Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri’s already failing authority at the club, but it remains to be seen how it affects the rest of Chelsea’s season. If they want a top-four finish, they need to win this game too.
Fulham vs Chelsea Prediction: Cottagers 0-1 Blues
Our prediction for this game is that the away side will win a scrappy game 1-0. If Chelsea were playing almost anyone else in the Premier League, you would have to think that they might struggle, given the controversy that has dominated the headlines about the club recently. They did, though, show some real mental resolve in beating Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 last time out, a result which demonstrated the resilience in the Blues’ dressing room. There are still clearly issues at the club, though, and we suspect that they will struggle to match that performance against Spurs. They will still have just enough to beat Fulham, though.
Our recommended tip: Chelsea 1-0
Our featured tip for this game comes from Betway, who are offering odds of 13/2 on the Blues winning the game 1-0. Interestingly, they are also offering exactly the same odds for a 2-0 victory for Chelsea, which is perhaps an indication of just how poorly Fulham’s chances of achieving a positive result in this game are rated. Chelsea are far from being a confident and smooth side away from home this season, but if they want to improve their poor recent away record, Fulham are just who they would want to be playing.
These two sides have played each other on 27 previous occasions in the Premier League. Out of those games, Chelsea have won 16 times and there have been 10 draws. Fulham have beaten the Blues only once in the Premier League, back in March 2006 at Craven Cottage, when a Luis Boa Morte goal was enough for them to secure victory.
The most recent meeting between the teams was earlier this season, when they clashed at Stamford Bridge on December 2 last year. The Blues won the game 2-0, with the goals coming from Pedro and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
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Players to watch: Aleksandar Mitrovic & Pedro
If Fulham are to have any chance of victory in this game they will need Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic to be at the top of his game. The combative Serb has scored 10 goals in 28 Premier League appearances this season, and is Fulham’s top scorer for the campaign. A physical and aggressive centre forward of the old school, any centre backs who face Mitrovic know that they have been in a game by the time the final whistle sounds.
Chelsea forward Pedro is a player who Fulham will need to watch. Four of his eight Premier League goals this season have come in London derbies. As well as his eight league goals, he has also provided one assist and created five big chances for his team-mates. He has hit 21 shots on target out of a total of 43 shots. Interestingly, he has scored four goals with his left foot and four with his right.