The FourFourTwo Preview: Chelsea vs Fulham

Premier League | Stamford Bridge | Sat 21 Sep | 5:30pm

Billed as

As good a chance of getting straight back on track as Chelsea could hope for.

The lowdown

Fulham are notoriously bad travellers, but so far this season they’ve looked better on the road than they have at Craven Cottage. Yet that doesn’t mean their fans will be particularly optimistic about their chances when they pop up the Fulham Road to face neighbours Chelsea, despite the Blues’ shock midweek home defeat in the Champions League.
 

CHELSEA FORM

  • Chelsea 1-2 Basel (CL) 
  • Everton 1-0 Chelsea (Prem)
  • Bayern p2-2 Chelsea (ESC)
  • Man Utd 0-0 Chelsea (Prem)
  • Chelsea 2-1 Aston Villa (Prem)

FULHAM FORM

  • Fulham 1-1 West Brom (Prem)
  • Newcastle 1-0 Fulham (Prem)
  • Burton 2-2p Fulham (LC)
  • Fulham 1-3 Arsenal (Prem)
  • Sunderland 0-1 Fulham (Prem)

Martin Jol’s side haven’t really got going yet, despite picking up what, at the time, looked a particularly impressive three points at Sunderland on the opening day.

Since then they’ve taken just one point, and although there is mitigation in the fact they have faced an on-song Arsenal, they haven’t done much to suggest they’ll be pulling up trees soon.

Chelsea will be something of a wounded animal, having suffered the rare ignominy of two defeats in the space of five days, at the hands of Everton and Basel.
 
It's perhaps taking Jose Mourinho longer than anticipated to get to grips with his new squad, but his side surely won’t be found wanting for the third time in a week. Surely?

Team news

Chelsea's physio room is looking rather sparse, with only back-up defender Tomas Kalas nursing an injury (broken leg).
 
Fulham, meanwhile, are still awaiting the return of goalkeeper Martin Stekelenburg from the shoulder injury he picked up on the opening day, and could also be without Darren Bent (hamstring), Bryan Ruiz (ankle) and Aaron Hughes (thigh).

Key battle: Eden Hazard vs Sascha Riether

With Juan Mata seeing surprisingly little game time in the early stages of the season, Eden Hazard has taken over as the main man in Chelsea’s attacking midfield trident.
 
The Belgian has started on the left so far this season, but his tendency to drift inside into central areas will leave Riether – generally more of an attack-minded full-back in any case – pondering whether to track his movement or pass responsibility on to a team-mate.
 

LAST FIVE MEETINGS

  • Fulham 0-3 Chelsea (Prem, Apr 13)
  • Chelsea 0-0 Fulham (Prem, Nov 12)
  • Fulham 1-1 Chelsea (Prem, Apr 12)
  • Chelsea 1-1 Fulham (Prem, Dec 11)
  • Chelsea p0-0 Fulham (LC, Sep 11) 
 

The managers

Jose Mourinho and Martin Jol both arrived in England in the summer of 2004; Mourinho in his first spell at Chelsea, Jol initially as Jacques Santini’s assistant at Tottenham, before taking over the top job when the Frenchman’s tenure came to an abrupt end after three largely uneventful months.
 
Since then the Portuguese and the Dutchman have met seven times, with Mourinho coming out on top in five of those, and Jol just the once. This is their first meeting since an FA Cup quarter-final replay at White Hart Lane in March 2007, which Mourinho’s Chelsea won 2-1.

Facts and figures

  • Chelsea have won seven and lost none of the last 14 Premier League derbies with Fulham.
  • Fulham have conceded more corners than any other Premier League side so far this season (32).
  • If goals from strikers were excluded this season then Chelsea would be top of the table.
  • Jose Mourinho has never lost a Premier League home game (W48 D14).
  • The last non-British manager Mourinho faced in a Premier League home game was Martin Jol back in April 2007 (Chelsea 1-0 Tottenham).
  • Jol lost both of his Premier League games at Stamford Bridge as Tottenham manager but has drawn both as Fulham supremo.
  • Fulham have managed only 11 shots from inside the penalty area this season, a divisional low.
  • Fernando Torres is yet to record a shot on target in the Premier League this season (126 minutes of action).
  • Fulham won only one of their five London derbies away from home in the 2012-13 Premier League (L2 D2).
  • Samuel Eto’o could become the ninth African to score a Premier League goal for Chelsea (after Drogba, Kalou, Essien, Babayaro, Geremi, Weah, Ba and Moses).

FourFourTwo prediction

Mourinho to field last season's playmaking trio - Oscar, Mata, Hazard - and Chelsea to win 3-1.
 
Chelsea vs Fulham LIVE ANALYSIS with Stats Zone


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