Updated: Jan 24, 2021
After losing four of their last six league games, Chelsea grabbed all three points as they edged past 10 men Fulham.
With the game originally scheduled to take place just under 24 hours ago, Saturday evening’s kick-off featured a Chelsea side in need of maximum points, as they took the short trip across south-west London to Craven Cottage.
Frank Lampard’s men arrived off the back of a 4-0 victory against Morecambe in the FA Cup, taking on a Fulham side full of confidence after their mid-week draw against Spurs – a result that contributed towards their fifth consecutive draw in the Premier League.
The Cottagers were without Aleksandar Mitrović, Tom Cairney and Mario Lemina – who were all out due to injury. Ruben Loftus-Cheek was also missing for Fulham, who was ineligible to play against his parent club.
Chelsea were also without some of their more crucial players as French international N’Golo Kanté was suspended for the clash, and Andreas Christensen remained missing from the bench. The Blues however did welcome the return of Reece James, who was listed as a substitute after returning to training following a combination of knee and hamstring problems.
Chelsea begun the game brightly and saw their first chance come 8 minutes in through striker Olivier Giroud. Mason Mount layed the ball off for the French International, but his effort could only win The Blues a corner, which eventually came to nothing.
The game was wide open for both teams, with all 3 points proving to be crucial for both Scott Parker and Frank Lampard’s men. 16 minutes in and this time there was an opportunity for the home team, as Antonee Robinson got the better of Chelsea captain César Azpilicueta. The attack was however defended excellently, after a flurry of blocks from Antonio Rüdiger.
2 minutes later and there was another oppurtunity for Fulham to grab the opener through Ivan Cavaleiro. The Portuguese forward got into a dangerous position inside the penalty area and did brilliantly with his first touch, however, struggled to get a shot away after losing balance.
The opening 20 minutes saw chances for both teams at either end, but it was the away side who looking the more likely. Chelsea saw Hakim Ziyech’s attempt saved by Alphonse Areola, who did well to get down low and make deny the Moroccan playmaker.
2 minutes later and Chelsea came even closer as Mason Mount rattled the crossbar. The move began with Ben Chilwell’s cross, which was poorly headed clear by Robinson. The ball was then retrieved by Mount, who was unlucky not to find the back of the net.
The pressure continued from Chelsea, who struggled to break down Fulham following efforts from Christian Pulisic and Antonio Rüdiger. However, the best chance fell for the home side 40 minutes into the game.
A lovely move from Scott Parker’s side started through goalkeeper Areola. Fulham shifted the ball well, and a pass from Kenny Tete found Cavaliero, who bluffed his lines from point-blank range. The miss appeared to be a real lifeline for Chelsea as Fulham should have found the opener.
The chance later proved to have been even more crucial as Parker’s side were reduced to 10 men just minutes later. United States international Antonee Robinson was involved once again, this time for the wrong reason as he was dismissed following a dangerous challenge on Chelsea’s Azpilicueta. Referee Peter Bankes showed the card with no hesitation, and Fulham now had to play the next 45 minutes at a disadvantage.
Chelsea started the second half brightly, looking to break down a Fulham team that was there for the taking. The Cottagers however looked to make things difficult for Chelsea, with Lampard’s side growing in frustration as they looked to find that all important first goal.
After 10 minutes of their backs against the walls, Fulham looked to counter through former Chelsea player Ola Aina. The Nigerian international broke away with pace, but struggled to convert with his effort failing to hit the target.
As the game rolled on to the hour mark, The Blues looked in very much in charge. They had full control of possession, with a goal for the visitors only looking a matter of time.
However, as frustration grew, Frank Lampard’s patience wore thin. Tammy Abraham was called into action, and minutes later diverted a header towards goal, but was straight at Areola.
On the 67th minute, there was a chance for Fulham after a defensive mix-up nearly put the home side ahead. Goalkeeper Édouard Mendy made a mess of a back pass from Azpilcueta, but Thiago Silva defended brilliantly to keep the game level. The Cottagers reminded Chelsea that they were still in the game regardless of their man advantage.
10 minutes later, Chelsea finally had their breakthrough, with all 3 points finally in their grasp. The move started with a cross from Ben Chilwell, which was palmed away by Areola. The goalkeeper should have done better, as the rebound fell to Mason Mount who drove the ball into the back of the net.
Now trailing in the game, Fulham hunted for the equaliser that would award them an important point against their noisy neighbours. A half-chance appeared for substitute Aboubakar Kamara, but his effort lacked pace and caused no bother for the Senegalese international Mendy.
As the game moved on into the dying stages, Chelsea had even more chances to double lead – with the best of the batch falling for Timo Werner. There was a golden opportunity for the German who broke away with devastating pace on the counterattack, but his shot on goal was struck wide, as his trouble in front of goal continued.
Despite the miss, Chelsea was able to hang onto all 3 points, with the victory perhaps providing them with the confidence they need as they travel to the King Power Stadium on Tuesday.
For Fulham, it was a great display that Scott Parker would be proud of, as his side hung in until the end against a motivated Chelsea team with a point to prove. For The Cottagers, they next play on Wednesday night against an inform Manchester United team, who currently sit the top of the Premier League.
Fulham 0-1 Chelsea
- Mount (78')
Areola; Aina (83’), Anderson, Adarabioyo; Tete, Reed, Anguissa, Decordova-Reid (83’), Robinson; Cavaliero(79’), Lookman.
- Subs: Onomah (79’), Bryan (83’), Kamara (83’).
Chelsea: Mendy; Azpilicueta ©, Rüdiger, Silva, Chilwell; Jorginho (65’), Kovačić, Mount; Ziyech (75’), Giroud (75’), Pulisic.
- Subs: Abraham (65’), Hudson-Odoi (75’), Werner (75’).
Fulham (30%) vs Chelsea (70%)
Fulham (10) vs Chelsea (21)
Shots on target:
Fulham (3) vs Chelsea (6)
Fulham (1) vs Chelsea (12)
Fulham (11) vs Chelsea (10)
- (statistics via BBC Sport)
(video via Sky Sports Football)