Chelsea vs. Fulham
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Kick off: 5:30PM
Chelsea will aim to cement their position in the top four of the Premier League table when they welcome Fulham to Stamford Bridge for another London derby in the Premier League this afternoon.
The Blues head into this tie following a 1-1 draw with Real Madrid in the Champions League, while Scott Parker’s side were denied all three points against Arsenal in heartbreaking fashion.
If anyone was going to stop Chelsea from taking a semi-final first-leg advantage back to Stamford Bridge, it was always going to be Champions League veteran Karim Benzema, who steered level with Raul on 71 goals in Europe’s elite tournament with Real’s equaliser on the night.
Christian Pulisic’s well-taken goal had given Chelsea a deserved lead at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, and while Thomas Tuchel may have been frustrated to only settle for a draw, the Blues have a precious away goal to take into next week’s second leg.
Today’s game represents Chelsea’s second London derby in the same number of gameweeks after a Timo Werner strike propelled them to a 1-0 win over West Ham United – one which saw them open up a three-point gap on their top-four rivals with five games left to play, and the Blues are in no position to relinquish their grip on fourth spot now.
For all of their successful endeavours away from home, Chelsea have not quite been able to hack it on home soil recently, as they have won just one of their last four league games at Stamford Bridge and were held to a goalless draw by Brighton & Hove Albion on April 20.
However, with the Blues’ resilient defence shipping just 31 goals all season – the second-best defensive tally behind Manchester City – goal-shy Fulham could see any faint hopes of survival further dashed in the capital, only a couple of weeks after an equally crushing afternoon at the Emirates.
VAR controversy aside, Fulham weathered the Arsenal storm and a disallowed Dani Ceballos goal before managing to break the deadlock at the Emirates, and they appeared destined to come away with three points in the bag after Josh Maja’s penalty.
The Gunners’ toothless attack did not seem to have any answers to Fulham’s defensive solidity, but in the seventh and final minute of injury time, substitute Eddie Nketiah was on hand to bundle home at the back post and leave a disheartened Fulham ruing what could have been.
Parker’s side did at least manage to snap a four-game losing run in the capital, but their hopes of a great escape are looking more improbable by the week, and the 18th-placed Cottagers are now seven points adrift of safety with five games left to play.
Then again, the bulk of their issues have come at Craven Cottage this term, as Fulham have only suffered defeat in one of their last 10 Premier League away matches, although they have won just two in the same period.
A Mason Mount winner saw Chelsea emerge victorious in a 1-0 win at Craven Cottage earlier in the season, and the Blues have not lost at home to the Cottagers since October 1979 – a run of 18 matches without defeat against their London rivals.
Chelsea possible XI: Mendy, Zouma, Silva, Christensen, James, Jorginho, Kante, Alonso, Ziyech, Mount, Havertz.
Fulham possible XI: Areola, Aina, Andersen, Adarabioyo, Robinson, Decordova-Reid, Lemina, Zambo Anguissa, Lookman, Maja, Mitrovic.