Sunday is a day of derby football in the Premier League, as Chelsea playing Fulham is accompanied by the North London Derby and the Merseyside Derby. Whilst the other two derbies contain much more animosity towards each other, this is an important game for Chelsea. In the wake of the loss to Spurs last time out, the team received a lot of criticism. This is their chance to answer the criticism and get back on track.
Fulham’s start to the season was nothing short of a disaster. With an expensive summer transfer window, bringing in Schurlle, Seri and Mitrovic, they looked ready to compete for a top-ten finish. However, they find themselves currently languishing at the bottom of the table. Having lost nine games at the time of Slaviša Jokanović’s departure, a managerial change was desperately needed. Who better to bring in to steady the ship than ex-Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri?
His instant impact was clear to see as they battled to a 3-2 win over struggling Southampton – a win which was only their second of the season. They come into this game with the added confidence of a new manager and fresh off a win. It could spell danger for the Blues, who will face a much more spirited Fulham than we’ve seen so far.
After the 4-0 win against PAOK, Chelsea come into this game with quite a few first team members having sat out the midweek clash. Chelsea know only a win is good enough to get them back on track in the league. One of the players who received the bulk of the criticism was David Luiz. Directly at fault for two out of the three Spurs goals last weekend, there have been calls for him to be axed for this game.
One player who could replace Luiz as a like-for-like is Andreas Christensen, who played well on Thursday and has been barely used this season in the league. The game coming up would be the perfect chance for him to prove himself and earn his place in the team; a place that some Chelsea fans believe he deserves. For definite, he would shore up the defence by not making any major errors leading to a goal as regularly as Luiz, due to his composure and reading of the game. His ball distribution and passing out from the back is also very good and underrated. How copes with Aleksandar Mitrovic would be how we measure his performance as he is there to negate the Fulham attack. But Sarri may stick with Luiz, a player he has trusted from the start of his Chelsea reign.
Whatever team Sarri decides to select, he knows his side need to show a fighting spirit to get back on track. It has been a while since they won and won in commanding fashion. The last time was Burnley away, winning by a four-goal margin. However, Fulham cannot be discounted as they will see Chelsea as wounded by last week’s defeat. As a result, the Cottagers will try to take advantage of that. They come into this game full of confidence, but the Blues know that they have to show their class and their pedigree as a top-four team and win well at the weekend to show all is well after their first loss of the season.