Before this game, Chelsea had only 1 win in 5 while Fulham had drawn 5 in 5. What an exciting match to look forward to! This Chelsea side was a title contender in December but right now, they are struggling to win bare games. They lack fluidity, they look tepid, and their new signings have failed to adapt to new surroundings.
Fulham since their 2-0 loss to Manchester City have looked good earning important points against Liverpool and Tottenham. Players like Alphonse Areola, Ademola Lookman, Chelsea-owned Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and Zambo Anguissa have been key in this resurgence. Scott Parker’s change of formation has also helped. The former Chelsea and Fulham man is slowly steering his side away from the relegation zone.
One change for Fulham from the Tottenham game as Ademola Lookman replaces Ruben Loftus-Cheek who cannot play against his parent club. For Chelsea, N’golo Kante was missing through suspension so Jorginho took his place with Kurt Zouma benched for Antonio Rudiger. Timo Werner’s poor run of form meant he was on the bench with Olivier Giroud in the XI.
Derby day here.
5 minutes into the game and Jorginho loses the ball. Fulham counter with speed but Hakim Ziyech’s intervention prevents a shot on goal. On 9, Giroud slices a nice shot that Areola saves. The French goalkeeper continuing his fine work from the Tottenham game. Great work from Mason Mount to set it up for Giroud. On 11, Chilwell fires well wide after the ball came to him. Just then, VAR completes a check for handball by Ola Aina in the box. No penalty.
Chelsea repel a flurry of Fulham attacks. Antonee Robinson is stretching Chelsea down the left as his speed is too much for the aging Ceasar Azpilicueta. On 22, Thiago Silva directs a pass to Giroud who lays it off for a Ziyech shot but Areola gets down to save. After a flurry of Chelsea crosses, Robinson heads the ball into the path of Mount. Mount’s shot clatters the bar on 25. The first real sight of goal for the blues. Rudiger forces an incredible save from Areola from a corner.
Fulham can now attack and they are finding spaces between Chelsea’s suspicious lines. However, they can’t fashion a clear chance. A Christian Pulisic shot goes wide on 32 and minutes later, Ivan Cavaleiro skies a glorious chance from a Fulham counter. He miskicks the ball over from point-blank range after a surge from Robinson and a defense-splitting pass from Tete. Robinson picks up a red card after a mindless on Azpilicueta in the 44th minute. The former Ac Milan target was having a great game before the brainless challenge. Half-time 0-0. Drab.
No changes for both sides. Ziyech tests Areola from a short corner routine but it goes out for another corner. Against the run of play, Ola Aina drives to the front of the Chelsea box but his shot is high and wide. Both teams camped in the Fulham half but Chelsea can’t fashion anything. On 63, Giroud misses a very good chance but he is offside and the flag spares the French striker his blushes. On 68, a quick free-kick catches Azpilicueta out and Edouard Mendy makes a rash decision to come out, Silva saves the day, preventing what would have been an embarrassing goal for any team to concede.
Tammy Abraham is on for Jorginho on 65. Timo Werner and Callum Hudson-Odoi replace Giroud and Ziyech 10 minutes later. Hudson-Odoi’s wing trickery is exactly what this game is crying out for. His current form (2 goals and 2 assists in his last 4 games) merited him a start ahead of Christian Pulisic (1 goal all season) but Frank Lampard decides these things and he claimed he was considering the Leicester City game which is next for Chelsea.
To iterate the point, Callum creates space for himself with said trickery then sets the ball for Ben Chilwell to hit it. Chilwell sees space and drives into it to cross. The cross is clawed away by Areola but into the path of Mount who smashes in on 78. Finally! Fulham coming out of their shell with nothing to lose but that means Chelsea will find more spaces behind. They did find the space but they were not able to use it. Chelsea all over the place despite the numerical advantage. 90+5 it shall be. Pulisic does well on the left and cuts it back but Azpi skies the chance. Werner misses a glorious chance to seal the game and his control lets him down on another chance. 0-1. Chelsea win.
Fulham lose the game with their head held high. They created problems for Chelsea in the first half and only a brainless challenge from Robinson handed the game to Chelsea. Despite the man disadvantage, they remained organized and difficult to break down. A style that has helped them to grab some valuable points but it was not to be today. Zambo Anguissa in particular was phenomenal, breaking lines with passes, carrying the ball, and disrupting opposition attack.
Chelsea played poorly even with their advantage. They lacked clear ideas on how to break this Fulham side down. The lineup was poor from Frank Lampard but the tactics and gameplay were even poorer. However, they got 3 points which is the most important thing. They are playing like a side bereft of confidence and style and the pressure is mounting even though Mount eased it today with that goal. Chelsea travel to face Leicester City next while Fulham await Manchester United.