Kick-off: 2000, 03/02/2023
Stadium: Stamford Bridge
TV: Sky Sports
Chelsea face a quick rematch with Fulham after recently losing to their west London neighbours for the first time since 2006.
The Blues had won seven straight head-to-head meetings before that 2-1 Craven Cottage defeat and will be keen to see normal service resumed here.
We’re taking 12/5 for a home victory by any one-goal margin as our initial Chelsea vs Fulham prediction.
When Chelsea were edged out by Fulham, it was a fifth loss in seven Premier League matches and featured a red card for expensive loan signing Joao Felix on debut.
However, Graham Potter has steadied the ship since then, via a 1-0 home win over Crystal Palace and a goalless stalemate at Liverpool.
New £89million recruit Mykhailo Mudryk made an encouraging introduction as a second-half substitute at Anfield.
Blues captain Cesar Azpilicueta said of the 22-year-old acquisition from Shakhtar Donetsk: “He’s very confident.
“He just has to express himself the way he has been doing. It’s great to see his energy and he will be a very important player.
“I’ve seen a very focused lad with great determination, great ambition.
“It was his first game since November so, for him, it was like pre-season.
“He played 35 minutes at Anfield, so it’s not the easiest debut and I think he did brilliant.
“He’s a player who can have that mix between playing good football with his feet and also running the space, you could see his speed.”
Chelsea continued their winter shopping spree with the signing of Argentina World Cup winner Enzo Fernandez for a British-record fee of £106.8million.
Defender Benoit Badiashile signed from Monaco for a reported £35m and England Under-21 international Noni Madueke joined from PSV Eindhoven for £29m.
David Fofana from Molde and Andrey Santos from Vasco de Gama complete an outrageously ambitious window for new owner Todd Boehly.
An early FA Cup exit gave the Blues last weekend off and Potter’s men should have freshened up ahead of this contest.
That could tell later on, so Chelsea vs Fulham odds.
Last Chelsea line-up: Kepa, Mukinayi, Silva, Chalobah, Jorginho, Mount, Ziyech, Gallagher, Cucurella, Hall, Havertz.
Four injured players are expected to be back for the hosts, with Ben Chilwell, Reece James, Raheem Sterling and Ruben Loftus-Cheek all fit enough to play some part.
Fulham made it five straight wins when shading Chelsea but their fortunes have dipped since then.
The Cottagers suffered back-to-back 1-0 losses to Newcastle and Tottenham in the league, before being held to a 1-1 home draw by Sunderland in the FA Cup.
Jack Clarke pounced on an Issa Diop mistake to give the Black Cats a sixth-minute lead, but Tom Cairney rescued Fulham with a fine equaliser in the 61st minute.
“Strange game, I can say,” commented Marco Silva. “It was an intense game, a typical FA Cup match, I think that’s fair to say.
“Of course, we were more dominant but the game was too broken for me as a manager to enjoy it, to be honest.
“We conceded a cheap goal but overall in the game I think we’ve created enough chances to score more goals.
“On the other side, I think we gave many opportunities for them to score as well and some counter-attacks where we gave the ball away in certain moments.
“We lost some important challenges and that was the part of the game I didn’t like.”
Fulham have exceeded expectations so far this term and go into this clash two points and three places above their opponents.
We fear they may now have had their fun, though, and the second half of the season could prove much tougher.
Let’s add 23/4 for a 1-0 home win to our Chelsea vs Fulham betting tips.
Last Fulham EPL line-up: Leno, Tete, Ream, Diop, Robinson, Reed, Decordova-Reid, Pereira, Willian, Palhinha, Mitrovic.
On deadline day, Fulham signed midfielder Sasa Lukic from Torino and Cedric Soares on loan from Arsenal until the end of the season, but Neeskens Kebano remains on the long-term injury list.
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