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Preview: Chelsea vs. Fulham - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Premier League clash between Chelsea and Fulham, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

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 on Saturday.

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.

Match preview

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel pictured on April 10, 2021© Reuters

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.

Saturday'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.

Fulham manager Scott Parker pictured on March 7, 2021© Reuters

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 Premier League form:
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • W

Chelsea form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • D

Fulham Premier League form:
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • D

Team News

Mateo Kovacic in action for Chelsea on July 14, 2020© Reuters

Chelsea boss Tuchel has conceded that Mateo Kovacic will not return from a thigh problem in time to face the Cottagers, and Antonio Rudiger has also been ruled out with an injury picked up in the dying embers of the draw in Madrid.

The hosts have no selection concerns otherwise, but rotation should be on the cards ahead of next week's second leg, potentially starting with Reece James and Kurt Zouma earning recalls to the defence.

Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech are both in contention for starts in the final third, while Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud can feel confident of earning some long-awaited game time, albeit probably from the bench.

Chelsea loanee Ruben Loftus-Cheek cannot face his parent club so will miss out for Fulham, but Mario Lemina and Andre Zambo Anguissa would have been expected to start in the middle anyway.

Terence Kongolo, Marek Rodak and Tom Cairney are all out for the long term, while Kenny Tete's involvement is uncertain as he aims to recover from a bout of COVID-19.

The bulk of the team who started in the draw at the Emirates should retain their places here, but a frustrated Aleksandar Mitrovic will hope to come into Parker's thinking if Ivan Cavaleiro finds his spot in peril.

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Mendy; Zouma, Silva, Christensen; James, Jorginho, Kante, Alonso; Ziyech, Mount; Havertz

Fulham possible starting lineup:
Areola; Aina, Andersen, Adarabioyo, Robinson; Decordova-Reid, Lemina, Zambo Anguissa, Lookman; Maja, Mitrovic

SM words green background

We say: Chelsea 2-0 Fulham

Fulham will aim to take advantage of Chelsea's fatigued legs this weekend, but the Blues will equally endeavour to capitalise on the Cottagers' low morale and pile more misery on their relegation-threatened rivals.

Tuchel has plenty of options for a change and a near fully-fit squad to pick from for this London derby, and even with their European exploits in mind, we cannot see the Blues slipping up here.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data

Video prediction

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Karim Benzema celebrates scoring for Real Madrid against Chelsea in the Champions League on April 27, 2021
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