This Saturday, it’s the West London derby for Fulham as we take on Chelsea, so how apt is it that I’ve got the blues too…
How far we’ve fallen since that excellent win over Liverpool doesn’t bear thinking about. A second half capitulation against Man City was followed by a lacklustre showing against Leeds, which in turn was followed by 15 minutes from hell against Aston Villa. Against Wolves, we made an average side look good and paid the price just minutes from time in another disappointing loss. Last time out, Eddie Nketiah scored in the 97th minute to rescue a point for Arsenal when we were so close to the three points we so desperately needed.
Now it may be too little, too late, but with Chelsea having this game sandwiched between two crunch Champions League games against Real Madrid, we could be in with a chance. As I write this, they’re yet to play the first leg so it’ll be interesting to see how they fare. However, with a reasonable degree of certainty I can say you’d expect them to have a job to do next week as well, so here’s to hoping some key players are rested.
I’m hoping to see a display packed with intent and desire on Saturday. Regardless of league position, this fixture means a lot to the fans so getting steamrollered here will hurt that little bit extra. When you factor in that we have five games to make up seven points on Brighton, we simply must win, or at the very least, draw here. They have a tough run coming up, including games against Leeds, Man City and Arsenal, but we can’t presume they’ll lose those games. If anyone is going to get us out of trouble it has to be us.
Despite everything I’ve said, am saying and will continue to say, I’m going to go for a 1-0 Fulham win. We are the underdogs here, and that seems to be (rather frustratingly) when Parker performs at his best. Also, let’s not forget, Kevin Keegan was once our manager, and I would love it if we beat them.
PREDICTION: CHELSEA 0-1 FULHAM
PREFERRED LINE-UP: 5-4-1
HEAD TO HEAD
LEAGUE RECORD (OVERALL)
- GAMES PLAYED – 73
- FULHAM WINS – 7
- DRAWS – 22
- CHELSEA WINS – 44
- GOALS SCORED – 62
- GOALS CONCEDED – 124
LEAGUE RECORD (AWAY)
- GAMES PLAYED – 36
- FULHAM WINS – 2
- DRAWS – 13
- CHELSEA WINS – 21
- GOALS SCORED – 25
- GOALS CONCEDED – 57
BIGGEST WINS AT STAMFORD BRIDGE
- CHELSEA 4-0 FULHAM (1925/26, 1983/84)
- CHELSEA 3-0 FULHAM (1938/39)
LAST 5 GAMES
- FULHAM 0-1 CHELSEA
- FULHAM 1-2 CHELSEA
- CHELSEA 2-0 FULHAM
- FULHAM 1-3 CHELSEA
- CHELSEA 2-0 FULHAM
- CHELSEA – WDWLD
- FULHAM – DLLLL
BATTLE TO WATCH
TIMO WERNER VS JOACHIM ANDERSEN
For me, Timo Werner coming up against Joachim Andersen will be the clash to watch out for on Saturday. Parker will set up so we’re defensively stable and look to nick a goal on the counter or from a set-piece, but it’s no use doing that if goals are leaking in at the other end.
Therefore, it’s vital that when we have our backs to the wall, the ball stays away from the goal. Timo Werner looks to be a man back in form after a stellar display against Man City in the FA Cup, which he then backed up with the winner against West Ham last weekend.
On his day, we know he can be imperious, and he’ll be chomping at the bit come Saturday as he looks to add to his total for the season. However, we have Joachim Andersen in our team, and his assured presence and experience will bring a calmness to the backline. At times this season, he’s looked a couple of steps ahead of the game he’s playing in so if he can outfox Werner early on and gain the mental upper hand it could prove to be a frustrating afternoon for the German, which can only be a good thing for us.
Going into the business end of the campaign, goals will be our most valuable currency. But what use is a currency whereby for each one you gain, you lose two? The attackers can be the difference makers for us in these last 5 games, but only if the defence allows those differences to be noticed.
LAST TIME OUT
FULHAM 0-1 CHELSEA (16/01/21)
Fulham came into this clash off the back of an excellent draw away to Tottenham, so the mood in the camp and amongst the fans felt optimistic. Chelsea hadn’t played league football since a crushing 3-1 defeat to Manchester City a couple of weeks previously, and there were talks that Frank Lampard’s job was on the line, with consequences possible should this result not go their way.
Despite winning this game, Lampard was in his job for just nine days more, before Roman Abramovich ruthlessly moved to replace him with Thomas Tuchel, previously of Borussia Dortmund and PSG amongst others. There’s no doubt that the Chelsea side we’ll face on Saturday are more defensively secure than Lampard’s outfit, whilst they also appear exceptionally well-drilled in attack.
We started brightly and looked capable of causing some damage to Chelsea. We peaked in the 10-15 minutes leading up to half-time but were then derailed by an Antonee Robinson red card. The sending off capped what was a disastrous few minutes for my heart, having just witnessed Ivan Cavaleiro blaze his shot over when unmarked on the penalty spot.
We did well to hold on for as long as we did in the end, Chelsea having 10 players who attempted shots before academy product Mason Mount rifled in following a Ben Chilwell cross. A loss was perhaps undeserved, yet it’s just another reminder that football is indeed a cruel sport.
After that game, we were four points off 17th placed Burnley, and ironically, despite enjoying our best period of the season since then, we’re now 7 points off Brighton in 17th. It really goes to show how far a win can go. We’ve drawn 12 games this season. That’s the same points return as just 4 wins, with 8 games left in hand. If you traded our draws in for wins,we’d have 27 points from 25 games, not 33. As well as that, we’d still have a sizeable portion of the season to go.
Oh well, it doesn’t do any one any good to reminisce on things like these, so we may as well strap in and enjoy (is that the right word?) the rest of the ride to come.
Come on You Whites!
PLAYERS IN COMMON
FULHAM APPEARANCES: 173
CHELSEA APPEARANCES: 125
Ola Aina, Jimmy Allen, Dave Beasant, Roy Bentley, Joe Bradshaw, Wayne Bridge, Peter Buchanan, Gordon Davies, John Dempsey, Perry Digweed, John Doherty, Damien Duff, Bjarne Goldbaek, Eidur Gudjohnsen, Jon Harley, Michael Hector, Gael Kakuta, Tomas Kalas, Ray Lewington, Barry Lloyd, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Lucas Piazon, Teddy Maybank, Paul Parker, Scott Parker, Ian Pearce, Gerry Peyton, Terry Phelan, Doug Rougvie, Andre Schurrle, Mark Schwarzer, Steve Sidwell, Aleksey Smertin.