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Team news: Joao Felix starts
Marco Silva makes a forced change to the Fulham side that won their last league game at Leicester. Carlos Vinicius replaces the suspended Aleksandar Mitrovic up front.
Chelsea’s big loan signing Joao Felix walks straight into the starting lineup, and the teenager impresses Lewis Hall he is preferred to Marc Cucurella as a left back. It looks like Graham Potter has switched to a back three.
In total there are four changes from Chelsea’s previous league game, the home defeat to Manchester City a week ago. Hall, Joao Felix, Trevoh Chalobah i Mount Mason replace Cucurella Hakim Ziyech and the injured pair of Raheem Sterling and Christian Pulisic.
Fulham (4-2-3-1) Leno; Tete, Adarabioyo, Ream, Robinson; Cane, Straw; Córdoba-Reid, Pereira, Willian; Vinicius
Subs: Rodak, Kurzawa, Diop, Chalboah, Harris, Cairney, Wilson, James, Solomon.
Chelsea (3-4-2-1) Kepa; Chalobah, Thiago Silva; Azpilicueta, Zachary, Kovacic, Hall; Mountain, Joao Felix; havertz
Substitutes: Bettinelli, Cucurella, Badiashile, Chukwuemeka, Jorginho, Gallagher, Ziyech, Aubameyang, Fofana.
referee David Coote.
Updated at 2:07 PM EST
So what do we have here? A West London derby in which Fulham are the pre-eminent team in SW6, that’s what. They start tonight’s game in seventh place, three places and three points ahead of Chelsea, who are in danger of winning the transfer market and losing everything else. The last time Fulham started a league game against Chelsea in a higher position was on 2 April 1983*, a 1-1 draw at Craven Cottage in the old Second Division.
All the pre-match chatter has been, rather tediously, about whether Graham Potter should be sacked for his inability to build Rome in a couple of hours. Marco Silva knows all about the P45s, having been sacked by Sporting Lisbon, Watford and Everton, but there was always a lot to like about his management and he has quietly done a spectacular job at Craven Cottage.
Fulham won the Championship in their first season, scoring 106 goals in the process, and have kept themselves ahead of the Premier League. Their recent defeats at Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United were unlucky, with the only time they came close when they were down to 10 men for most of a 4-1 defeat at home against Newcastle. They have won all four games since Qatar, while Chelsea have lost seven of their last nine and are without nearly an entire squad of senior players.
He was going to say that even without the suspended Aleksandar Mitrovic, Fulham will provide a tough test for Chelsea. But given the league positions and recent form, we should probably rate it the other way around.
To start 8 p.m.
* I think. Look, I checked it once and maybe I was wrong, but I don’t have time to redo 40+ years of league tables, okay. This is a blog, your honor, not a judicial review!