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Chelsea v Fulham preview: London rivals could cancel each other out

Just three weeks on from a 2-1 victory at Craven Cottage, Fulham bid to complete a surprise Premier League double over star-studded London rivals Chelsea in Friday's reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge.

Goals from Chelsea old boy Willian and Carlos Vinicius, either side of a Kalidou Koulibaly strike, provided the perfect tonic for Fulham against their old adversaries in January.

It was a debut to forget for Joao Felix as he was sent off with the score level at 1-1 and Chelsea's Portuguese forward will be missing again as he serves the final of his three-match ban.

Despite having failed to win nine of their last 11 league fixtures, Chelsea are 3/5 to take all three all three points on Friday, with Fulham 19/4 for victory after suffering back-to-back 1-0 defeats in the Premier League at the hands of Newcastle United and Tottenham.

A draw hasn’t occurred between these sides since 2012 - some eight rivalries ago - but is a 3/1 chance.

WhatChelsea v Fulham
WhereStamford Bridge, London
When20:00, Friday 3rd February
How to watchSky Sports Main Event & Premier League
OddsChelsea 3/5, Draw 3/1, Fulham 19/4

Big-spending hosts in need of a spark

Chelsea have been splashing the cash in a bid to try and turn their fortunes around, but there is serious work to be done in order for them just to qualify in the European qualification places.

The Blues find themselves tenth in the table after 20 games, with their current 29-point total two worse than their rivals Fulham.

Victory for Graham Potter's team would see them leapfrog their neighbours and it would be quite the surprise were they to finish below them at the end of the campaign, especially given their recent cash injection.

Chelsea's January spending spree ended with the £107million signing of Argentina midfielder Enzo Fernandez from Benfica, which took their total winter spend to an estimated £289m following deals for Ukrainian winger Mykhailo Mudryk and Atletico Madrid's Felix and several other new faces.

Given the array of talent now at their disposal, things should soon click for the Blues, but the recent signs suggest more time is needed for them to gel.

Since that Fulham defeat, Chelsea have responded with a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace and a goalless draw with Liverpool at Anfield.

But goals still remain the issue, as they have netted only 22 times in 20 matches, scoring more than once in only one of their last 11 league encounters.

In fact, just two of Chelsea's last 12 league matches have rewarded backers of over 2.5 goals. That makes the 10/11 available for under 2.5 goals a tempting proposition, especially as Fulham had blanks in their last two league matches.

Mudryk, who arrived from Shakhtar Donetsk, looked extremely lively during his 35-minute cameo at Anfield and looks to make his first start.

The Ukrainian looks like a special player and is 15/2 to open the scoring, while he is 3/1 to net at any time.

Related Football News

Chelsea 8/1 to finish in top four after record-breaking January spending spree

Premier League: Can Enzo Fernandez bring the fire to Chelsea?

Transfer twists: Chelsea snatch Mykhailo Mudryk from Arsenal

Mitrovic could boost visitors' prospects

It is worth remembering that when Fulham got the better of Chelsea recently they did so without star striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, who was suspended.

Mitrovic is Fulham's leading scorer with 11 goals in 18 games - nobody else has more than four - and the prolific Serb is 13/2 to open the scoring and 5/2 to register any time.

Fulham are evidently a better team when the 28-year-old is playing, which is why the Cottagers must be optimistic about their chances at 11/8 in the double-chance market. That may also tempt punters in with the draw, which is as big as 3/1.

Fulham are far from a one-man team and in midfield the likes of Joao Palhinha and Andreas Pereira has excelled.

The 4-2-3-1 formation head coach Marco Silva adopts makes his Cottagers team extremely tough to beat and of their eight defeats this season, six have been by a one-goal margin.

Fulham may not have the talent of Chelsea throughout their squad, but they have mastered getting the basics right, something which should aid their chances of picking up another positive result at Stamford Bridge.

And there is far more pressure on the Blues to perform as they play catch-up on the teams above them.

Injuries have also not helped the Blues' cause with Christian Pulisic, N'Golo Kante, Raheem Sterling, Wesley Fofana, Reece James and Edouard Mendy among those still sidelined.

With Felix also suspended, it could take a few weeks before they hit top stride and, if they are to reign supreme, it’s unlikely to be with a free-flowing performance.

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