From one derby to another, Chelsea move from the rather heated rivalry against Spurs to the much more friendly affair with next door neighbors Fulham (especially now that the adorable Claudio Ranieri’s in charge and the bruises of Clint Dempsey’s elbows have long faded away).
That’s not to say either team will be taking it easy. Fulham are knee-deep in a relegation fight already while Chelsea need a good result after last weekend’s disaster at Wembley. The 4-0 midweek beatdown of PAOK was good, but it was essentially a meaningless match in a Europa League group that had been decided before kick-off already.
Sarri made 10 changes for Thursday’s match from the Spurs debacle, with goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga the only player to keep his place. With only three days between matches, that does put a damper on any player making the jump from the B-squad to the A-squad. However, as the Premier League fixture list gets congested — the next game after Sunday is on Wednesday, away to Wolves — ideal periods of rest can no longer be maintained and the squads will likely have to be jumbled up a bit.
Fortunately, the squad is just about fully healthy — Eden Hazard is a dealing with a twisted ankle but should be available, while Victor Moses has a back issue of unknown severity — although Sarri seemingly does have some issues with trusting his backups (and youngsters) in important situations.
How about you?