Fulham vs. Chelsea
Venue: Craven Cottage
Kick off: 3:05PM
Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri has another chance to prove that a corner has been turned when his side make the short trip to West London rivals Fulham this afternoon.
The Italian’s job was under threat following last weekend’s EFL Cup final loss to Manchester City, but the midweek win over Tottenham Hotspur means that he is still in charge for now.
Sarri may have avoided being sacked by Chelsea, but there was no such luck for Claudio Ranieri as his short tenure at Craven Cottage came to an end on Thursday.
Ranieri was sacked after just 106 days in charge, winning just three of 17 games during that spell. The Premier League title winner was brought in to galvanise Fulham and guide them to safety, but he leaves them in a worse position than they were in when he arrived a little under four months ago.
Going further back, it is seven defeats in eight Premier League outings for Fulham, conceding at least twice in all eight matches. No team has a worse defensive record in the top flight, shipping 63 goals in total.
Fulham have conceded more goals in both the first half (32) and second half (31) of Premier League matches this season than Chelsea have in total (29), and they have struggled at the other end of the field, too, scoring just once during their four-match losing streak – Ryan Babel’s early opener at West Ham United, which was cancelled out by three goals from the Hammers.
More recently than that, the Cottagers offered very little as they suffered defeat in what was billed a must-win match at Southampton. Both goals came as a result of poor goalkeeping from Sergio Rico, and only when two down did they offer any sort of response at St Mary’s Stadium – even that was after their opponents had backed off, happy to soak up the pressure.
The gap on Southampton in 17th place is now 10 games and, with just 10 more games to play, the Cottagers’ fate will surely be confirmed before the end of next month. All Parker can ask for is a response of some sort from Fulham’s underperforming players, starting with Sunday’s meeting with neighbours Chelsea.
Fulham possible XI: Rico, Odoi, Nordtveit, Ream, Bryan, Cairney, Chambers, Seri, Sessegnon, Babel, Mitrovic.
Chelsea possible XI: Kepa, Emerson, Rudiger, Luiz, Azpilicueta, Kante, Jorginho, Barkley, Hudson-Odoi, Higuain, Willian.