Sandwiched by both legs of their Champions League semifinal tie with Real Madrid, Chelsea host Fulham FC on Saturday in a London derby league fixture. The Blues are nearly fully fit as a squad, so they’ll have the luxury of doing some squad rotation here against a team that’s likely to be relegated.
The Cottagers are seven points behind Brighton for the final safety spot, and with only five games to go, have a lot of work to do. Chelsea meanwhile are in the midst of a tenacious three-way battle for the fourth and final Champions League slot, a race that will almost certainly not be resolved until Championship Sunday.
Chelsea vs Fulham FYIs
Chelsea Starting XI Prediction:
Kick off: 5:30pm GMT, Sat May 1, 5:30pm Stamford Bridge
TV/Stream: Sky Sports, Sky Sports App
Odds: Fulham win +650 Draw +340 Chelsea win -230
Premier League Position: Chelsea 4th, 58 pts Fulham 18th, 27 pts
Premier League Form Guide: Chelsea WDWLD, Fulham DLLLL
We start with Fulham, who have a trio of absentees: Tom Cairney (knee), Terence Kongolo (knee) and Marek Rodak (finger). However, they are hoping Kenny Tete could returng to the fold after being sidelined for testing positive for covid-19.
Switching over to Chelsea, the only worry here is Mateo Kovacic (thigh), who faces a late fitness test here in order to be fit to feature. The big news after the draw in Madrid this week was misfiring striker Timo Werner.
Overall, he’s been a flop since moving over from Germany, but manager Thomas Tuchel says his countryman needs to shake off those missed scoring opportunities and “keep his chin up.”
“He missed a big one in West Ham, now he missed another big one here,” said Tuchel, of Werner.
“That does not help, but it also does not help to cry about it or to regret it all the time; it is like this.
“There are millions of people who have harder things to deal with than chances that you miss, so this is the good thing about sports – nobody cares tomorrow.
“We were sad, we were angry in the moment, this is normal. He was angry. He may be disappointed. Now he has a free day and the next day he has to put his chin up.
He is a professional guy a top guy, he works hard. He is in positions and from there on we go.
“We will never stop pushing, we will never stop believing and I have the feeling that everybody accepts the situation like it is and as a striker it is easy, you score the next game and nobody speaks about it.”
This makes one think of a phrase popularized by legend of all hockey legends, Wayne Gretzky: “you miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take.” Sulking and being apprehensive is not the way forward for Werner.
He has to simply keep plugging away in order to get out of his shooting slump.
Prediction: Chelsea 2, Fulham 0
While Tuchel will obviously be more focused on next week’s UCL semifinal second leg with Real Madrid, he can’t take his foot off the pedal too much. Chelsea should cruise, but it will require a real legitimate effort to do so.