|It has been quite the whirlwind for Claudio Ranieri over the past couple of weeks.
First, he is recalled to the cut and thrust of the Premier League as he was installed as the new Fulham manger and this weekend, he already goes up against one of his former employers.
That’s because this Sunday sees the West London derby take place at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea play host to Fulham. Two Italians will be going head to head in the technical areas, the question is just which one will come out on top?
Hosts Chelsea will be looking to bounce back after being bested by another London based outfit last weekend as Tottenham made incredibly light work of them at Wembley. A defeat that sees Maurizio Sarri lose his unbeaten start as a Premier League manager.
While Fulham will make the short trip across the capital with their tails up after returning to winning ways last weekend when they got the better of fellow strugglers Southampton. A win that just makes sure that they are not cast adrift at the bottom of the table.
Chelsea last outing was undoubtedly their worst performance of the season so far, although perhaps that does Tottenham a disservice after such an excellent display in front of their own fans. Whichever way you want to look at it, it was a very costly defeat in terms of any title aspirations.
Going into the start of the weekend, Chelsea find themselves seven points behind league leaders Manchester City. A figure that could be as high as ten, should Pep Guardiola’s men get the better of Bournemouth on Saturday afternoon.
Should that happen as expected then it will only put the pressure on Chelsea even further, especially when you consider that City and Chelsea then square off next weekend. By then the Blues could be cast well adrift in the race for the title.
Belgian star Eden Hazard has already intimated that Chelsea’s pursuit of a second Premier League title in three seasons may have come to an end after that defeat to Tottenham, with the aim solely being on a clinching a top four finish and a return to the Champions League the following season.
The thought of European football for Fulham is merely wishful thinking, they quite simply have to make sure they finish 17th and stay in the English top flight and are not sent back down to the EFL Championship at the first time of asking.
Their win over Southampton highlighted that they can be more of a handful in attack, but even in victory over Mark Hughes’s men they still showed that they are susceptible to the old defensive lapse.
That is something that new boss Claudio Ranieri is going to have to work on, as a return to Stamford Bridge is going to provide a real test for him and his Fulham players.Unfortunately for them though, Chelsea will earn the local bragging rights by earning all three points this Sunday.