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Chelsea vs Fulham – Match Preview

 

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.

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Monday Night Relegation Battle

 

The final match of the weekend in the Premier League is on Monday night as Huddersfield Town welcome Fulham to the John Smith’s Stadium. 

This is a massive match for both teams as they attempt to ease their relegation worries at the bottom of the table.

Huddersfield start the weekend sitting bottom of the Premier League with only 3 points from their ten games. They are yet to pick up a win this season and will see this match as the perfect opportunity.

Fulham are just two places above them in 18th and occupy the final relegation spot.  They have 2 points more than Huddersfield but the same -17 goal difference.

Huddersfield came away from Watford last weekend with a 3-0 defeat.  It was their second defeat in succession in the Premier League having lost 1-0 at home to Liverpool the week before, in what was arguably their best performance of the season to date.

Trends show Huddersfield have won one of their last twenty Premier League games and that single victory came last season.  The Terriers have drawn three of their ten league matches this season and lost the other seven.

Scoring goals has been a problem and Huddersfield have failed to find the back of the net in each of their last seven home games in all competitions.  They have also kept just one clean sheet in their five home Premier League games this season.

Fulham were eliminated from the League Cup on Thursday night, losing 2-0 at Manchester City. The home team were in control of the game despite resting several of their regular first team players from this season.

That defeat means Fulham have lost each of their last five games in all competitions, with four of them coming in the Premier League.  There have been heavy defeats at home against Arsenal and Bournemouth plus losses at Everton and perhaps most disappointingly, Cardiff City.

Trends show Fulham have won just one of their ten matches in the Premier League this season and that victory came back in August at home against Burnley.  Away from home in the league, Fulham have picked up just a single point courtesy of a 2-2 draw at Brighton and Hove Albion at the beginning of September.

Fulham have conceded 3 or more goals in four of their five away Premier League matches this season.

Looking ahead to the team news and Huddersfield have Terence Kongolo, Daniel Williams and Tom Smith back in training.  Rajiv van La Parra is a doubt due to illness.

Fulham will assess their players following the Thursday night game at Manchester City.  However, Joe Bryan will definitely miss out due to a hamstring injury and Kevin McDonald will also watch from the stands due to suspension.

Both teams come into this game in poor form and desperately need to win.  Fulham appear to have the superior attacking quality in their team and it could be that which makes the difference in a closely fought encounter.

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Tottenham vs Fulham – Match Preview

 

Fulham find themselves playing in another London derby this weekend as they make a relatively quick return to Wembley.

It was only as recent as May that they won the Championship Play-Off Final against Aston Villa.

That win saw them reach the promised land of the Premier League for the first time since their relegation back in 2014. However, they did not get off to the fairy tale start they had hoped for last weekend after a home defeat to Crystal Palace.

The West London club have spent big over the course of the Summer and this has raised expectations, however with so many new faces it may take some time for the team to form a cohesive unit.

They go up against a Tottenham side that have not had the best of the weeks, after failing to buy anyone in the Summer transfer window they were then dealt the devastating blow after being told that their new stadium will not be ready for its planned October opening.

They have at least had a positive result on the pitch though to soften the blow, one that came away at Newcastle. Mauricio Pochettino’s men came away eventual 2-1 winners at St James’ Park but they were certainly made to work for their victory.

Jan Vertonghen may not have been a fan of goal line technology going into the game, but he certainly would have been at the end of it. His headed opener was adjudged to have crossed the line by a margin of 9mm.

Had there not been any technology in place, then quite simply that would have not been a goal as the referee would have been able to make the correct call. If technology assisted Tottenham to start with then it is fair to say they rode their luck soon after.

It was perhaps not the best performance from a side that welcomed back a whole host of players from World Cup duty, so perhaps the main objective was just making sure that they bought maximum points back to the capital.

Harry Kane’s barren August run continues and that is something he will look to put right this weekend, however on the evidence of his performance against Newcastle there are question marks over his fitness still.

It looks like he is not quite got the sharpness that has been evident in the past and this is something that his manager will have to keep a keen eye on. Tottenham must be really careful not to overwork him, for the simple fact that they have a paucity of attacking options to replace him.

However, at the same time it only needs a goal to spark things into life for Kane and he will be licking his lips at the prospect of going up against a club that has come up from England’s second tier last season.

With that in mind, this will be the perfect fixture for Kane to break his August hoodoo and also to placate the Tottenham fans after the stadium frustrations of the past week. This should be a relatively comfortable home win.

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Fulham survive late Queens Park Rangers fightback to claim derby victory

Fulham have survived a frantic Queens Park Rangers fightback in a spell of injury time which lasted nearly ten minutes as the Cottagers ran out 2-1 winners in Friday night’s Championship clash at Loftus Road.

The home side began brightly but the first chance of the game fell to the Cottagers in the fifth minute, with Liverpool loanee Sheyi Ojo getting in behind the QPR defence down the right-hand side, but his subsequent effort flew wide.

At the other end, Jake Bidwell’s cross on seven minutes fell kindly for Idrissa Sylla, but the 26-year-old blazed his shot over the bar, although it would not have counted as he was in an offside position.

QPR enjoyed a bright spell thereafter, with Joel Lynch, Pawel Wszolek and Luke Freeman all weighing in with chances, but Fulham also came close when Stefan Johansen’s effort on 17 minutes bundled into the side netting.

With both sides playing attacking football, a goal appeared imminent one way or another, and in the 41st minute, the deadlock was broken courtesy of a QPR own goal.

Ryan Fredericks decided to have a shot from 25 yards out, and despite the effort lacking the required power, the ball took a big deflection off Jack Robinson and went beyond Alex Smithies, who had already began moving the opposite way.

Ian Holloway’s night was set to go from bad to worse as Ojo fell awkwardly onto his left shoulder under a tackle from Lynch and had to be stretchered off with a suspected dislocated collarbone.

In terms of second-half action, Fulham overcame another bright QPR start to take hold of the game, winning a penalty in the 82nd minute when Lynch brought Neeskens Kebano down in the box.

Although Rui Fonte blasted his penalty high above the bar, the 27-year-old made up for his error two minutes later when he squared for Johansen to rifle home.

However, with the game seemingly all but settled, nine minutes of injury time were announced, and in the second of those, Matt Smith nodded a free kick down to Conor Washington, who fired into the net via a Fredericks deflection.

The remainder of the match saw QPR desperately try and find an equaliser, with Smithies going up from his goal and heading wide, while Tomas Kalas had to clear an effort off the line.

Ultimately there was to be no more drama as Fulham held out until the final whistle and celebrated three points which edged them closer to the playoffs.
(Giuseppe Labellarte)