CHELSEA have not been shy in splashing the cash since Todd Boehly replaced Roman Abramovich as owner.But now, Graham Potter has his work cut out inspiring a charge up the Premier League table – starting on Friday night against noisy neighbours Fulham.
British record signing Enzo Fernandez could feature in Chelsea’s West London derby clash against Fulham on Friday nightCredit: Getty
Graham Potter has a job on his hands leading Chelsea to Europe with the struggling giants tenth in the Premier LeagueCredit: Getty
The Blues are currently languishing in TENTH in the standings, 21 points adrift of league leaders Arsenal and ten points off the top four.
Chelsea spent a staggering £259.1million in the summer before shelling out a further £329.9m in January – including the British record £106m move for Enzo Fernandez from Benfica.
Potter was unable to offload Hakim Ziyech, with plenty more deadwood likely to be shifted come the summer.
Now Potter will have to work some magic to work out his best XI and how to keep all of his big-name stars happy despite a logjam in the burgeoning squad.
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For Chelsea, the second half of the season starts now and it absolutely must be an improvement on the shocking first few months.
Unfortunately for them, they come up against West London rivals Fulham – who beat them 2-1 just three weeks ago.
For so long, the Cottagers have been hidden in their shadow, but now they sit ABOVE Chelsea in the standings after their promotion last summer.. and deservedly so.
Fulham sit in seventh, but are only two points above their neighbours.. and the Blues have a game in hand.
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So for Chelsea, there is lots more than local bragging rights to play for.
But can Potter get his hands on a crucial three points?
What is their form like?
Chelsea: With just one win from six games in 2023, it’s fair to say their form has been abysmal.
They edged past Crystal Palace 1-0, drew to Liverpool and Nottingham Forest and lost to Man City twice – including the 4-0 FA Cup mauling – and Fulham.
Fulham: A strong start to the new year saw them beat Leicester, Hull and Chelsea.
But since then, they’re winless – losing to Newcastle and Tottenham in the league, while drawing with Sunderland most-recently in the cup.
Chelsea’s top scorer is Havertz with just five goals
Fulham are enjoying a fantastic season
What is the team news?
Potter is dealing with an injury crisis and is set to continue without N’Golo Kante, Denis Zakaria, Christian Pulisic, Edouard Mendy and Armando Broja.
Trevoh Chalobah is a doubt and Joao Felix is still serving a three-match ban.
Raheem Sterling and Wesley Fofana returned to first team training but they have both been predicted miss out on the Fulham fixture.
However, English duo Reece James and Ben Chilwell are reportedly ready to be included in the matchday squad.
British record transfer Enzo Fernandez could be thrown in at the deep end if his registration paperwork is completed in time.
And Mykhailo Mudryk could be given his full debut after an impressive 20-minute cameo off the bench against Liverpool having avoided an FA ban after a video of himself using a racial slur came to light.
Elsewhere, Marco Silva has no added injury concerns but the Fulham boss will be hoping Neeskens Kebano can recover from his Achilles tendon injury.
New signings Sasa Lukic and Cedric Soares could be involved.
Chelsea: Despite missing so much time with injury, the return of Reece James could prove huge for the Blues.
Adept at right-wing-back or on the right of a central three, the England man – who missed the World Cup – is so important to everything the club do in defence and attack.
So while all eyes might be on the new mega-money signings, don’t forget about James.
Fulham: Willian famously turned out for Chelsea between 2013 and 2020.
Since then, he’s played for Arsenal and now Fulham in London alone – with a short stint at Corinthians in between.
The 70-cap Brazil international has been superb for the Cottagers this term and could be their key figure back at Stamford Bridge.
What have the managers said?
Graham Potter: “It’s an exciting test for me of course and for the staff and everybody but it’s an exciting one. We’ve got a lot of really good players.
‘We’ve got Ben Chilwell, Reece James, Raheem Sterling and Ruben Loftus-Cheek back in the squad. They’re not ready for 90 minutes but certainly in the squad.
‘Wesley Fofana’s been training partly with the team and he’ll be stepping that up next week.
“And then we’re still without Denis Zakaria, Christian Pulisic, Mateo Kovacic, N’Golo Kante and Armando Broja.”
Marco Silva: “I know everyone is talking about Chelsea because it was a big amount of money in January but it is not the first time.
“If it is too much money or not, it is not for me to talk about it… lucky them they have all this power to sign new players.
“There were two positions we wanted to strengthen in our squad, the right-back position and we wanted to create more competition in our midfield as well, to give us different solutions.
“It was a busy last day for us as a football club, I know you like it, but we don’t like it so much as a football club.
“Cedric knows the football club and has played in the Premier League already and has a lot of knowledge that will help us for sure.
“Lukic is another mature player as well in a good age, another quality player who will give something different for us and create competition. I think both of them will raise the level of our team.”
What are the odds?
Chelsea – 11/20
Draw – 3/1
Fulham – 9/2
*Odds courtesy of Betfair are correct at time of publication
When is Chelsea vs Fulham?
Chelsea’s London derby with Fulham will take place TONIGHT, February 3.
It is scheduled to get underway at 8pm UK time.
Stamford Bridge is the allocated venue for this huge match and it can host approximately 41,837 fans.
Fulham ran out 2-1 winners when the sides last met in January.
What TV channel is Chelsea vs Fulham on and can it be live streamed?
Chelsea vs Fulham will be broadcast LIVE on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League in the UK.
Coverage is expected to commence from 7pm on both channels – a whole hour before kick-off.
Subscription members of NOW TV and head to the website to stream the entire action.
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Alternatively, read SunSport’s live blog for minute-by-minute coverage of the match.
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