14 min: A fairly even contest. Caicedo has been neat and tidy and won a couple of tackles that he had no right to. Andreas Pereira has also been lively. 12 min: Gallagher, again wearing the captainâ€™s armband tonight for Chelsea, turns beautifully in midfield and releases Palmer on the right. It does feel like the former City man has the beating of Robinson and he links well again with his skipper before Diop clears for the home side. 10 min: An email from Bill Preston. Fulham have had plenty of the ball but have no threatened in any way, apart from a couple of loose crosses to the back post. â€œSilva is absolutely right when he talks about being â€œaggressive, brave, ambitious.â€ Thereâ€™s a great opportunity here to get a decent early lead, get a stomp on and consolidate,and then work to deny the thrilling heroics Chelsea will throw at them.â€ 8 min: Mudryk has made a very shaky start, twice losing possession in dangerous positions. So much talent, so little confidence. 6 min: Confirmed that it is Cucurella playing right back, as he did last week against Brighton. The other option would be Disasi, with Cucurella left back and Colwill at centre back. 4 min: Chelsea have made a slick start: Palmer, Enzo and Gallagher combine in a flowing move, with Enzo just unable to latch onto a clever through ball. 2 min: Broja is clean through! He round Leno, steadies himself â€¦ and skies his effort over the bar with the goal gaping! Three Chelsea players had retreated on the line, but Broja still should have buried it. The flag actually does go up for offisde. It looks close! No matter. It remains goalless. A couple of good stats: five of the nine Chelsea players on the bench have never kicked a ball for the first team. Raheem Sterling is the only player over the age of 21. Mauricio Pochettino, meanwhile, is already in the ear of fourth official Simon Hooper, badgering the official as they make the walk across the pitch from the famous cottage to the dugout. Perhaps he sees another thrilling VAR spectacle coming. Marco Silva makes all the right noises in the pre-match interview. The need to be aggressive, brave, ambitious. The balance of respecting Chelsea but also â€œrespecting ourselvesâ€. This is textbook stuff from the Portuguese. Some very tiresome VAR debate on the UK Sky coverage. Thereâ€™s an easy solution, scrap the thing. It sucks the joy out football, on the telly yes, but especially for those in the stadium. We can all agree that goalline technology is a good thing. It provides clarity, and doesnâ€™t detract from the spectacle of the game. VAR is a complete distraction. Itâ€™s more important for football to be fun than to be scientifically correct. â€œGood evening from a rather frustrated supporter of the longest established team in SW6,â€ emails Richard Hirst. I canâ€™t quite understand why so many people (including, unfortunately, some at the Guardian) seem to be buying into the narrative that Chelsea are not a complete laughing stock but in fact have a plan, and their current predicament is largely the fault of injuries. â€œCome on guys, give us a break. Theyâ€™ve spent the GDP of several small countries and have been â€¦. (expletive deleted pre-watershed) for a long time. Leicester have scored more Premier League goals than Chelsea in 2023, and they were relegated in May! Yes, theyâ€™ve had injuries, but they can still put someone like Sterling on the bench, so life ainâ€™t too bad. »Sodâ€™s law says Chelsea will come good tonight and thrash Fulham, since 60 years of supporting Fulham has been an instruction in the harsh realities of life, but even if they do it still wonâ€™t alter the underlying balls up theyâ€™ve made.â€ Cole Palmer starts for Chelsea. What a lovely footballer he is, although Iâ€™m still not quite used to him in a Chelsea shirt. Itâ€™s a surprise every time I see him in royal blue. Also interesting that Cucurella comes in for his first league appearance of the season, after the Spaniard played the full 90 minutes against Brighton in the League Cup last week. Marco Silva named six changes to his starting XI after Fulhamâ€™s 2-1 Carabao Cup third-round win against Norwich last week. Bernd Leno replaces Marek Rodak in goal and both Antonee Robinson and Tim Ream rejoin the back four. Andreas Pereira replaces last weekâ€™s goal scorer Alex Iwobi in midfield and Raul Jimenez is preferred over Carlos Vinicius. Thiago Silva and Conor Gallagher return to the XI and Armando Broja is picked over the suspended Nicolas Jackson. This is Brojaâ€™s first start in nearly 11 months. Heâ€™s some player, and this season is his chance to make his mark on the starting XI. Itâ€™s just a question of if the injury has taken its toll. Fulham: Leno, Castagne, Diop, Ream, Robinson, Reed, Joao Palhinha, Andreas Pereira, Wilson, Jimenez, Willian. Subs: Rodak, Bassey, Cairney, Ballo-Toure, Reid, Rodrigo Muniz, Iwobi, Lukic, Vinicius. Chelsea: Sanchez, Disasi, Thiago Silva, Colwill, Cucurella, Caicedo, Gallagher, Palmer, Fernandez, Mudryk, Broja. Subs: Sterling, Madueke, Ugochukwu, Petrovic, Maatsen, Deivid Washington, Gilchrist, Brooking, Matos. Welcome to the Upper-ClÃ¡sico. Is this the poshest derby in the world? Anyone that has done the 1.5 mile-journey in west London from Stamford Bridge to Craven Cottage â€“ a stadium so in keeping with its surrounds with period features and charming river views â€“ knows that this is not a typical football landscape. But despite the two clubs not sharing the same division for much of their collective histories, this is a genuine rivalry that goes back to the very beginnings, to the point where, back in 1904, Fulham were offered the first option on the Stamford Bridge ground, their refusal prompting the owner of the freehold, a building contractor named Gus Mears, to found a club of his own: Chelsea. If they have a shared past, the two clubs are also sharing the same present â€“ the mid-table of the Premier League. Chelsea, in 15th, could rise above Fulham on goal difference with a win tonight to go 12th, the position they finished in last season. It is now October. Chelsea havenâ€™t scored a league goal since the 25 August. The goal of the month competition for September canâ€™t have been much fun to compile. Anyway, this should be fun. Rarely have Fulham had a bigger chance to get one over their nearest rivals. Blues fans will be hoping a bit of needle can spark their player into action. Itâ€™s been a while.
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