Sandwiched in between the two legs of our Champions League semifinal against Real Madrid, Saturday’s Fulham match was always going to be an interesting proposition, a classic trap game easily overlooked despite best intentions.
Combine that with Fulham’s fading but still mathematically possible escape from relegation, our absolute need to keep ahead of the chasing pack in fourth place, and mounting fatigue within the squad, and the recipe for potential disappointment gets even more potent. We saw with the recent nil-all draw against Brighton how distractions (and they don’t always have to be bad) can have a massive impact on performance.
Mateo Kovačić, our only injury concern, is still unlikely to be back just yet from his hamstring injury, which limits our options for rest and rotation. Jorginho has started eight in a row, the longest active streak in the squad, with Mason Mount and Antonio Rüdiger close behind with seven. Ben Chilwell has started six of seven while both Thiago Silva and N’Golo Kanté are at four in five, which is a concern these days.