Saturday’s early kick-off is a west London derby; here, we look ahead to Chelsea vs Fulham at Stamford Bridge with our prediction and preview. Can the Blues make it three league wins on the spin?
Chelsea vs Fulham Stats: The Quick Hits
- The Opta supercomputer predicts Chelsea to win this one, being given a 49.7% chance of victory at Stamford Bridge.
- Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 18 home league games against Fulham.
- Mauricio Pochettino has won all five of his Premier League meetings with the Cottagers.
Chelsea will put cup commitments to one side as Mauricio Pochettino’s team aim to make it three straight Premier League wins when they host fellow EFL Cup semi-finalists Fulham at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
The Blues swept aside Preston North End with a 4-0 demolition in their FA Cup third-round tie last weekend but suffered a disappointing 1-0 loss away at Championship side Middlesbrough in their EFL Cup semi-final first leg on Tuesday. Chelsea will look to bounce back in the Premier League, though, where they have recently recorded back-to-back victories over Crystal Palace and Luton Town.
A fine Cole Palmer double, coupled with the former Manchester City man’s assist for Noni Madueke’s goal at Kenilworth Road, seemed to have Pochettino’s visitors easing to a routine victory on Matchday 20 against Luton, but then Ross Barkley and Elijah Adebayo scored to set up a tense finale, though Chelsea held out for a 3-2 triumph.
Owing to a turgid start to the season, however, the Stamford Bridge club sit 10th in the league table heading into MD 21 – some four places below Opta’s sixth-place prediction for Chelsea from 10,000 Premier League campaign simulations ahead of the 2023-24 campaign – with it clear for all to see that Pochettino still has a lot of work to do.
The former Tottenham Hotspur and Paris Saint-Germain boss may apportion some of the struggles to injury issues amid his attempts to knit together a plethora of big-money signings – and expect further Todd Boehly activity in the January transfer window – as Pochettino’s lineup remains without a host of key figures.
Wesley Fofana, Reece James, Marc Cucurella, Robert Sánchez, Carney Chukwuemeka and Trevoh Chalobah are all long-term absentees, while Christopher Nkunku suffered another setback with a hip injury. Ben Chilwell and Benoît Badiashille are back in full-team training ahead of Saturday’s kick-off, though.
With those injury troubles, Pochettino may look to the increasingly reliable Palmer as his chief creative asset. The English attacking midfielder squandered two brilliant opportunities against Middlesbrough in Tuesday’s EFL Cup semi-final but has scored eight Premier League goals this season, more than any of his Chelsea teammates. The only player to score more in a single campaign for the Blues in the competition while aged 21 or younger is Christian Pulisic in 2019-20 (nine).
Fulham have had similar commitments to Chelsea outside of league football in the last week, defeating Rotherham United 1-0 in their FA Cup third-round tie thanks to Bobby De Cordova-Reid’s goal, before losing 2-1 at Liverpool in the first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final clash on Wednesday. Marco Silva’s men claimed a 2-1 win over top-flight title contenders Arsenal in their last Premier League outing on New Year’s Eve as Raúl Jiménez and De Cordova-Reid powered the hosts to a comeback victory at Craven Cottage after Bukayo Saka’s early opener.
The 31 December triumph over Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal was a welcome return to form for Fulham, whose 13th-place league-table position before MD 21 owes to a run of three straight league defeats – against Bournemouth, Burnley and Newcastle United – prior to their win over the Gunners.
As for Fulham’s team news, Silva’s lineup will be somewhat depleted for the Stamford Bridge trip, with Nigerian pair Calvin Bassey and Alex Iwobi as well as Senegal’s Fodé Ballo-Touré on international duty at the African Cup of Nations. The west-London visit will likely be too soon for Adama Traoré too, though Tim Ream was back on the bench at Anfield on Wednesday.
Chelsea vs Fulham Head-to-Head
Chelsea will fancy their chances here considering they are unbeaten in their last 18 home league games against Fulham (W11 D7) since a 2-0 loss in the second tier in October 1979.
Continue to look away Fulham fans… the Cottagers have won just one of their last 23 Premier League games against Chelsea (D8 L14) overall, though that was a 2-1 success at home last January.
Indeed, Fulham’s 10% win rate against Chelsea (8 wins from 77 meetings) is the lowest of the 3,116 occasions of a side facing another at least 50 times in English league history. The Blues were also 2-0 victors in the reverse fixture this term as Mykhailo Mudryk and Armando Broja found the net.
Pochettino, across spells with Southampton, Tottenham and Chelsea, has enjoyed facing Fulham in his managerial career, winning all five of his Premier League meetings against them – only against Hull City (six from six) does he have a better 100% win rate in the competition.
It has been another turbulent season for Chelsea but they have won their last two Premier League games – against Crystal Palace and Luton – last winning three in a row in October 2022 (a run of four).
Pochettino’s men can also rely on home comforts given they have also won their last three – including against Sheffield United and Brighton and Hove Albion – at Stamford Bridge in the competition, but they have not managed four in succession on home soil since a six-game run in July 2020.
Adding in a chaotic 4-1 win over Tottenham in November, Chelsea have won their last two Premier League London derbies, as many as they had in their previous 13 such games (D4 L7), but Fulham are also looking to win three consecutive top-flight London derbies for the first time since April 2013.
However, Fulham have lost each of their last four Premier League away games – against Bournemouth, Newcastle United, Liverpool and Aston Villa – while conceding 3+ goals in each. Only two sides have lost five in a row on the road in the Premier League while shipping three or more goals each time – Ipswich Town in April 1995 and Barnsley in November 1997.
Opta Power Rankings
The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to over 13,000 domestic football teams on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world.
Ahead of kick-off in this match, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.
Chelsea vs Fulham Opta Player Ratings
Before kick-off in this match, here are the top five performing players from both teams in the 2023-24 Premier League according to the Opta Player Ratings:
Conor Gallagher: 75.0 (out of 100)
Thiago Silva: 72.5
Raheem Sterling: 70.4
Cole Palmer: 68.4
Moisés Caicedo: 68.0
Tom Cairney: 75.1 (out of 100)
Alex Iwobi: 64.7
Bernd Leno: 64.6
Harry Wilson: 63.4
Chelsea vs Fulham Prediction
Dictated by their dominant head-to-head record, Chelsea are backed by the Opta supercomputer to defeat Fulham, winning 49.7% of 10,000 simulations before kick-off.
A draw may be Fulham’s best hope, with the data-backed predictions producing that result in 27.7% of simulations, while an away win comes in at just a 22.6% chance, though Fulham will take heart from their strong showing at Anfield on Wednesday, albeit in defeat.
Despite the likelihood of a home win here, Chelsea are still expected to finish 10th – their current league-table position – in 20.2% of season simulations, while Fulham’s most likely end-of-season standing ranks as 13th in 20.2% of Opta simulations.