Fulham look to make it four Premier League wins on the bounce on Thursday evening when they welcome West London rivals Chelsea to Craven Cottage.
The Cottagers have won all their three league games after the resumption of the Premier League, as well as the FA Cup third-round tie against Hull City. This has seen them climb up to seventh in the standings, level on points with sixth-placed Liverpool.
Having beaten Hull City 2-0 in the FA Cup at the weekend, Marco Silva and co. are in high spirits and will be confident of beating a struggling Chelsea.
Fulham were dealt with a big blow when their top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic picked up his fifth booking of the season in the 1-0 win over Leicester City—ruling him out of the West London derby.
Marco Silva has no other fresh concerns ahead of Chelsea’s visit, but he could be boosted with the return of Shane Duffy from illness. Meanwhile, Manor Solomon made just his second appearance for the Cottagers since joining from Shakhtar Donetsk against Hull and will hope to get involved against Chelsea.
Bernd Leno is Fulham’s No.1 goalkeeper and should be recalled into starting XI, after being rested in the FA Cup game against Hull City. He will be hoping to keep a clean sheet against a blunt Chelsea attack.
Marco Silva is set to retain his 4-2-3-1 formation, with Tim Ream forming the central defensive pairing with Tosin Adarabioyo again. Kenny Tete and Antonee Robinson will be given the license to go forward from the full-back positions and cause problems for the shaky Chelsea backline.
Issa Diop and Layvin Kurzawa will be available for selection on the bench as they provide cover for the defensive positions.
Joao Palhinha and Harrison Reed have been mainstays in the middle of the park for Fulham this season. Palhinha and Reed will form the double pivot as usual as the duo look to dominate Chelsea’s midfield and engineer some meaningful chances in the final third.
Andreas Pereira has been a revelation for the Cottagers, bringing creativity, dynamism and flair to Silva’s side. He is the glue between Fulham’s midfield and attack, making the Brazilian a certain starter against Chelsea.
Replacing Aleksandar Mitrovic in the team will be a tough ask for Silva because of not only his goals but also what extra he brings to the team in terms of physicality and hold-up play. Carlos Vinicius is expected to deputise for the suspended Mitrovic up top, with Willian and Bobby Reid operating from the wide areas.
The aforementioned Fulham front three could combine well and take advantage of Chelsea’s frailties at the back. The likes of Daniel James, Manor Solomon and Harry Wilson may get involved at some point in the second 45 minutes of the derby.
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