It’s a bit of a rivalry “Triple Derby” Super Sunday in England, with the Merseyside and the North London derbies taking place, but before those main courses, there’s the appetizer of a West London Derby, which is hardly on the same level but a Derby nonetheless.
The 76 meetings between Chelsea and Fulham aren’t trivial, but they pale in comparison with the 200 or so instances that either of the two main Sunday derbies have been held. In fact, all of Chelsea’s local rivalries (Brentford, Fulham, QPR) have a Goliath vs. David quality to them (certainly in the last 20 years), which makes them bigger occasions for our opponents than for the Blues.
This is the first clash between Blues and Whites since March 2014, when Chelsea won 3-1 at Craven Cottage thanks to an André Schürrle hat-trick, who actually joined Fulham this season. The last meeting at the Bridge, a 2-0 win for the Blues in September 2013, saw a goal from Mikel John Obi, even, his only Premier League goal ever in 249 tries. Four of Fulham’s last six goals against Chelsea had been scored by recently retired Clint Dempsey. You never know what might happen in a West London Derby!
Date / Time: Sunday, December 2, 2018, 12:00 GMT; 7am EST; 5:30pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Craig Pawson — an increasingly familiar face, for better or worse (usually worse), this will be Pawson’s third Chelsea match of the season already (we’ve won the other two, 3-0 and 4-0 away to Southampton and Burnley, respectively) and the 14th in the last three years (including three cup matches). Pawson has been present for some of Chelsea’s worst results in that span, including losses to Watford (4-1 away), Burnley (3-2 at home), and Crystal Palace (2-1 at home, twice).
Forecast: Mild and breezy
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); NBCSN, Univeso (USA); Star Sports Select HD2 (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: Sky Go (UK); NBC Sports Live, Universo NOW (USA); Hotstar (India); Fubo TV (affiliate link — USA only)
Chelsea team news: Other than Victor Moses’s mystery back injury and Eden Hazard’s tender ankle, Chelsea are full of health, vim, and vigor, re-energized (hopefully) by Thursday’s 4-0 fun (vs. PAOK) after last weekend’s 3-1 disaster (against Spurs at Wembley).
Sarri rotated the whole team except for the goalkeeper for the midweek Europa League training exercise, which probably means that, three days later, most of the usual suspects will get the start once again in the league — the only question is whether Kovačić or Barkley gets the nod as the third midfielder. A chance for redemption after last weekend.
Chelsea do have a midweek league game coming up after this one (away to Wolves) before Manchester City come to town next Saturday, so Sarri will have to get a bit more creative in his lineups soon.
Fulham team news: Adorable ex-Chelsea manager and Premier League champion (with Leicester City) Claudio Ranieri is one match and one win into his tenure as Fulham boss, as the Cottagers try to avoid going straight back down to the Championship. They seemingly did good business in the summer (including signing the likes of Schürrle and Jean Michaël Seri), but umlauts or not, the results have not worked as well as they would’ve expected, so ex-Chelsea midfielder Slaviša Jokanović (who was briefly linked with the Chelsea job, even, in the summer!) got his walking papers. So many Chelsea connections!
Sarri and Ranieri have their personal connections as well, with Sarri taking inspiration from then-Fiorentina boss Ranieri 20 years ago, and the Tinkerman visiting Cobham just recently while unemployed.
Ahead of their meeting tomorrow, Maurizio Sarri recalls his history with former Blues boss, Claudio Ranieri.https://t.co/3W5dBr9aWN— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 1, 2018
As much as we love Claudio of course, there will be no time for friendliness during the 90 minutes tomorrow.
View from the enemy: Cottager Confidential
Previously: A truly historic occasion as Mikel scored. You might not believe it, but look, it’s here on video! Even Abramovich could hardly believe it!