A Blue Up North previews Chelsea’s home Premier League match over Fulham.
This Sunday sees Chelsea play host to their near neighbours Fulham in the Premier League. It is a match up that The Blues have had a stranglehold on with only 1 defeat in their 26 Premier League matches against the Cottagers and would be the almost ideal match to follow on from last weekend’s humiliating loss away to Tottenham Hotspur.
Maurizio Sarri is expected to recall most of his regular first team after making 10 outfield changes for their Europa League clash during the week. Olivier Giroud and his 2 goals against PAOK Salonika will have given him a chance to make a claim to return to the Premier League starting line up.
If Eden Hazard has recovered from his ankle injury he will surely start and that will mean Callum Hudson-Odoi is unlikely to be involved, with Willian and Pedro taking the right wing and substitute’s place.
After a lacklustre attacking performance against Spurs, there is a great chance for either Ross Barkley or Ruben Loftus-Cheek to be called up instead of Mateo Kovacic in midfield. Despite Cesc Fabregas’s quality showing on Thursday, it is unlikely Sarri will drop his talisman Jorginho after just 1 poor performance. The other question will be whether David Luiz retains his place or if Andreas Christensen is given the opportunity.
Fulham arrive after finally gaining a victory last weekend over Southampton, having lost their previous 7 matches. That run had led to the sacking of former Chelsea player Slavisa Jokanovic as their manager. He was replaced by former Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri and they immediately reacted with gaining their first Premier League victory since 26 August.
Ranieri has no new injury concerns and could well stick with the same side that beat The Saints. However, this will be a very tall order, especially over a Chelsea side who are smarting over last weekend’s defeat.
Surely whatever starting line up that Sarri settles for will play with the focus and assurance of a team that went 18 matches unbeaten at the beginning of the season and will be far too strong for a batting Fulham side.
A return to winning ways in the Premier League should get The Blues back on to the right track in the league.
Written by Jon Ellis, home and away season ticket holder. Follow him on Twitter @ClitheroeBlue