Opposition Focus: Chelsea


24/11/18 – Spurs 3-1 Chelsea (PL)
11/11/18 – Chelsea 0-0 Everton (PL)
08/11/18 – BATE Borisov 0-1 Chelsea (UCL)
04/11/18 – Chelsea 3-1 C Palace (PL)
31/10/18 – Chelsea 3-2 Derby (EFL Cup)


Since his appointment in the summer, Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has gone about setting up our SW6 neighbours in much the same fashion as his Napoli team that won plaudits from across the globe for their style of football. Set up in a 4-3-3, Chelsea will play a high defensive line focused on patient build-up play from the back, dominating possession and a particular focus on a midfield pivot who can distribute the ball to the teams more creative players. The two wingers will move in from the flanks, providing space for the fullbacks to push our wingers back and force them to focus on covering Christie and Le Marchand. Just as with Napoli – Sarri has focused on making the left-hand side of his team the most important with Marcus Alonso and Eden Hazard supported from midfield by Ross Barkley or Mateo Kovacic. The big debate will be over who starts up front between Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud. With Hazard and Morata failing to establish any sort of effective partnership – Hazard is yet to score a goal in the league with the Spaniard on the pitch – Giroud may start if he is given the chance to impress against POAK in the Europa League on Thursday night.

Battle to Watch

Jorginho vs Cairney: Sarri wasn’t the only arrival from the South of Italy this summer, as the much-coveted Jorginho joined the Blues ahead of Champions Man City. As we noted above, for Sarri and Chelsea’s system to work as well as it can Jorginho has to play well to give their undoubtedly talented forwards a greater chance of affecting the outcome of the come. The success Everton, Spurs and to some extent Palace had against Chelsea by placing a man on the Italian and stopping him from doing precisely that enabled them to get at what remains a somewhat suspect defence. With Tom Cairney playing as the number 10 behind Mitro against Saints, it is likely he will do so again on Sunday and therefore this responsibility falls on his shoulders. If he can pressurise Jorginho and disrupt Chelsea’ rhythm and control of the game then our chances of getting something out of the game will only increase.

Danger Man

Sometimes it isn’t the most obvious player who is the focus of this particular section but for Chelsea, there is only really one answer to this. Eden Hazard has been the best player at Chelsea – and at times the Premier League – during his spell at Stamford Bridge and he has the ability to make it difficult for any team in world football when he plays against them. Hazard started the season fire after a very impressive World Cup but has slowed a little bit of late. His obvious ability to rip teams apart with his dribbling ability and clinical finishing means that keeping Hazard quiet is a must for the entire Fulham team this weekend.

Last 5 Meetings

01/03/14 – Fulham 1-3 Chelsea (PL)
21/09/13 – Chelsea 2-0 Fulham (PL)
17/04/13 – Fulham 0-3 Chelsea (PL)
28/11/12 – Chelsea 0-0 Fulham (PL)
09/04/12 – Fulham 1-1 Chelsea (PL)


Fulham wins 26
Draws 11
Chelsea wins 46

Stats & Facts

  • The clubs have met on 83 occasions in all competitions – Fulham have won 11, Chelsea have won 46 and there have been 26 draws.
  • Fulham have failed to win any of the last 17 West London derbies with Chelsea since a 1-0 Premier League victory at Craven Cottage in March 2006 that came courtesy of Luis Boa Morte’s 17th-minute goal. It is their only win in the last 36 meetings in all competitions.
  • Fulham have failed to win on any of their last 17 trips to Stamford Bridge in all competitions since prevailing 2-0 in the old Division Two in October 1979. The victory was not enough to save the Whites from relegation come the end of the season although it did stop their rivals from an immediate return to the top-flight; the Blues missed out on promotion on goal difference.
  • Despite that poor recent record, the Cottagers have actually avoided defeat in 3 of their last 4 visits to Chelsea. Within a 15-month period between September 2011 and November 2012, the sides drew 0-0 and 1-1 in the Premier League, having also played out a goalless draw in the Carling Cup (that eventually saw Fulham beaten on penalties).
  • Claudio Ranieri’s first West London derby as Chelsea manager in September 2001 was the first between the sides in 16 years and the first to take place in the Premier League. The game ended 1-1 at Craven Cottage as Barry Hayles cancelled out Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink’s opener. The visitors had Slavisa Jokanovic sent off with 9 minutes to play.

Players in Common

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, Tomas Kalas, Ray Lewington, Barry Lloyd, Lucas Piazon, Teddy Maybank, Paul Parker, Scott Parker, Ian Pearce, Gerry Peyton, Terry Phelan, Doug Rougvie, Andre Schurrle, Mark Schwarzer, Steve Sidwell, Alexey Smertin.

Magic Moment

A blast back to a time when Ranieri was managing Chelsea in 2003 as they pushed for the final Champions League place and took on the Whites’. With Jean Tigana having been sacked earlier in the Month we had Chris Coleman in caretaker charge for our visit to the Bridge. We came away with a highly creditable 1-1 draw to push us towards eventual safety. A great save from Maik Taylor from Frank Lampard’s effort is probably the moment that stands out most from the game, although Luis Boa Morte’s goal isn’t far behind. This result may have been one of the reasons why Coleman got the job on a permanent basis and led us to a 9th place finish the following year – something that seems a long way off for us right now. Let’s hope the current boss gets a result that can lift the team in a similar way.

Opposition View (@StamfordChidge from @ChelseaFanCast)

What are your expectations for this season?

Top four is realistic but I think it will be harder than many think – the defeat to Spurs shows that we still have a long way to go to adapt to Sarri’s philosophy so expect a few more bumps in the road and of course competition for the top four is now more fierce than ever

Will the fact that your Chairman who was an ever-present at home games, now being banned from the UK have a long-term effect on your club’s future?

Roman’s absence is a concern – none of us really know what is going on behind the scenes politically and anything can happen. From what I do know he still loves the club and football but with the stadium redevelopment on hold, the visa issues keeping him away and trying to keep the club on a more even keel financially and the rise of State-financed clubs I do think that things have changed considerably and are more uncertain than at any time since his arrival in 2003.

Most neutrals would laugh that this is a derby but the reality is, there aren’t many derbies in the Premier League where the clubs are as close to each other as Fulham & Chelsea. Where do you stand on it?

Obviously, I hate any team that’s not Chelsea. But the truth is that it’s hard to have any real enmity against Fulham – most football rivalry is down to the hooliganism of old and competing for trophies rather than just proximity. Fulham have never rivalled Chelsea in my lifetime and going back to the 50’s Chelsea supporters would often alternate between Chelsea one week and Fulham the next. Mind you that was a very different time. Personally Fulham away is one of my favourite away games of the season – great old school stadium and of course, we can drink in the same pubs.

Up until a week ago, the momentum was all with Chelsea. But it’s all change for Fulham with Ranieri as manager & a win under our belts whilst the Blues lost their unbeaten start to the season in the same weekend. Will it make a blind bit of difference?

It always bothers me when we have to face a team who have just replaced their underperforming manager – it seems to happen to us a lot and quite often we’ve been caught out by it. Fulham will be up for it of course as will Ranieri and Schurrle as ex-Chelsea with a point to prove but, if we have the right attitude and turn up we have better players so are a good 2 goals better than Fulham.

How do you see the game panning out?

Much will depend on how we have recovered from the mauling Spurs dished out, if confidence has been restored and whether we have resolved the issue of when teams target Hazard and Jorginho. If this happens then I see us winning – Fulham need to be disciplined for 90 minutes and I’m not sure they will manage that plus their defence is still leaky. But given Morata’s form, Chelsea might struggle to score unless Hazard is on his game.

Score prediction: I’m going for a cautiously optimistic 2-1 home win.

Predicted Line-up: The line up I suspect will predictably be Kepa – Azpi – Rudiger- Luiz – Alonso – Kovacic – Jorginho – Kante – Hazard – Morata – Willian but I’d prefer Barkley for Kovacic and Giroud for Morata – much as I am as flummoxed as anyone about what to do with Kante who seems like a fish out of water playing at RM rather than DM, Sarri isn’t going to change from 4:3:3 or remove Jorginho from central midfield.

Thanks to Stamford Chidge, presenter of The Chelsea FanCast for answering our questions.

Match Prediction

After being hammered by Spurs at Wembley last Saturday night, Chelsea will be desperate to turn things around in this West London derby. A lot will depend on what team they put out against POAK on Thursday but we should assume their key players won’t have to play a part in that at all. Our record at the Bridge is pretty terrible so do upset that on Sunday will require something we haven’t seen from Fulham so far this season. Let’s hop Ranieri can get the team as fired up as the fans will be for this one, 1-1 draw.

Predicted Line-up