Kepa Arrizabalaga returned in goal as a revived Chelsea took on Fulham in Scott Parker’s first game as Cottagers caretaker boss.
Kepa replaced Willy Caballero following his demotion to the bench in the midweek win over Tottenham for his refusal to be substituted in last Sunday’s Carabao Cup final penalty shootout loss to Manchester City.
Andreas Christensen, Emerson Palmieri, Ross Barkley and Willian also came into a Blues side showing five changes.
Parker made one change from Claudio Ranieri’s last line-up, with Ryan Sessegnon starting in place of Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa.
Fulham XI: Sergio Rico, Odoi, Nordtveit, Ream, Bryan, Chambers McDonald, Babel, Cairney, Ryan Sessegnon, Mitrovic
Subs: Ayite Vietto, Le Marchand, Christie, Seri, Zambo, Ramirez
Chelsea XI: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Christensen Emerson Palmieri, Kante, Jorginho, Barkley, Willian, Higuain Hazard.
Subs: Pedro, Loftus-Cheek, Caballero, Kovacic, Giroud Hudson-Odoi, Luiz
22 minsminute by minute
Chambers fouls Willian to halt a Chelsea counter, earning himself the game’s first yellow card as a result.
20 minsminute by minute
GOOOOAAALLL!!! FULHAM 0-1 CHELSEA! Higuain scores the type of goal he was brought in score, getting ahead of his marker and finishing past Rico with a low shot. Azpilicueta is played in by Willian on the overlap and his cross is in the perfect zone for Higuain to attack it eight yards out. A well-worked Chelsea goal.
20 minsminute by minute
Assist César Azpilicueta Tanco
19 minsminute by minute
KEPA GETS AWAY WITH IT! Emerson does well to block the cross from coming in out on the right. Fulham’s build-up play is very patient and a cross is finally played in from deep. It should be a routine catch for Kepa but he spills it – thankfully for him Babel had already turned his back.
17 minsminute by minute
Poor defending from Fulham, and Nordtveit in particular, as Higuain gets in behind. The ball over the top from Jorginho is overhit, though, and he is unable to keep it in play.
16 minsminute by minute
Higuain is picked out in the middle and, unlike a little earlier in the game, he manages to get a shot away on this occasion. However, his shot on the turn is blocked before it can reach the target.
14 minsminute by minute
Willian has a low shot blocked after cutting inside. Fulham have invited a little too much pressure on themselves early on but they are now enjoying a spell on the ball.
Overall Possession Ratio
13 minsminute by minute
Hazard is popping up in some dangerous positions. The Chelsea forward’s clipped pass is nearly met by Higuain, but it has a little too much on it and Ream is able to see it out.
12 minsminute by minute
Chelsea have lost two of their four away London derby matches this season. They last lost three away London derbies in a single Premier League campaign back in 2001-02.
10 minsminute by minute
It has been an open start to proceedings at Craven Cottage. Chelsea have been on top in terms of possession, but Fulham have also got forward and arguably had the best chance of the match so far, which Cairney was unable to make the most of.
8 minsminute by minute
Higuain is picked out in space inside the box – never a good thing for opponents – but he takes too long to shoot and Fulham manage to clear.
7 minsminute by minute
GOOD BLOCK! Fulham hit their opponents on the counter and create a good opportunity for an unmarked Cairney, whose first-time shot from 12 yards is blocked by Azpilicueta. The follow-up attempt from Bryan is well hit and has Kepa a little worried, but it ends wide of the target.
5 minsminute by minute
HALF A CHANCE! Bryan catches Willian late and a free-kick is awarded out on the Chelsea right. Willian’s cross is cleared as far as Kante on the edge the box and, after his initial shot is blocked, it is worked to Hazard. The Belgian’s cross is a good one and Higuain should be doing better than glancing wide of the target from close range.
3 minsminute by minute
Willian rolls the ball down the line to the overlapping Azpilicueta, whose cross into the box is pretty weak. Chelsea, as expected, are seeing plenty of the ball in the early stages.
2 minsminute by minute
Hazard gets on the ball early on and exchanges passes with Higuain, but the return ball has a little too much on it and Fulham deal with the danger.
1 minsminute by minute
Fulham get this West London derby underway! Can the hosts pull off a big shock to revive their survival hopes?
The two teams are now out on the field at Craven Cottage and we are moments away from kick-off.
Fulham have won just one of their last 32 league meetings with Chelsea, beating them 1-0 in the Premier League 13 years ago this month. The visitors are unbeaten in their last 17 Premier League games against their local rivals – only against Tottenham (28) and Everton (18) have they had longer unbeaten runs against a single opponent in the competition.
The big team news as far as Chelsea are concerned is that Kepa is recalled between the sticks, having been dropped for the win over Tottenham because of his refusal to leave the field late on in last weekend’s EFL Cup final. Kepa returns as one of five changes from that crucial victory on Wednesday, joined in the starting line-up by Christensen, Emerson, Barkley and Willian. Hazard looked a little tired last time out but Sarri is unwilling to give him a breather today, so Hudson-Odoi is once again named on a bench that also includes David Luiz, Alonso, Kovacic, Caballero and Pedro, who all drop out from the Tottenham match.
Fulham show one change from their midweek loss to Southampton as Sessegnon replaces the benched Anguissa. It looks to be a slight change in formation for the home side, too, with Cairney dropping into his preferred attacking midfield position just off leading scorer Mitrovic, who has found the back of the net in only one of his last nine matches. Fan favourite Sessegnon appeared to fall out of favour under Ranieri, but Parker has handed him a start today on the opposite flank to Babel, while McDonald and Chambers will sit in front of an unchanged back four.
Chelsea subs: Mateo Kovacic, Willy Caballero, Olivier Giroud, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Pedro, David Luiz.
CHELSEA XI (4-3-3): Kepa Arrizabalaga; Cesar Azpilicueta (c), Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Emerson Palmieri; N’Golo Kante, Jorginho, Ross Barkley; Willian, Gonzalo Higuain, Eden Hazard.
Fulham subs: Luciano Vietto, Cyrus Christie, Fabri, Floyd Ayite, Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Jean Michael Seri, Maxime Le Marchand.
FULHAM XI (4-2-3-1): Sergio Rico; Denis Odoi, Havard Nordtveit, Tim Ream, Joe Bryan; Calum Chambers, Kevin McDonald; Ryan Babel, Tom Cairney (c), Ryan Sessegnon; Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Sarri’s side are five points adrift of fourth-place Manchester United, but this is the first of two games in hand. Chelsea are strong favourites to come away from Craven Cottage with all three points today, with their neighbours in a bit of a rut following four defeats on the spin and eight defeats in their last nine in all competitions. The 2-0 loss to fellow strugglers Southampton in midweek cost Claudio Ranieri his job, and it is now down to Scott Parker to revive Fulham’s slim survival hopes as they are 10 points adrift of safety with 10 games to go.
Chelsea head into this West London derby on the back of a much-needed victory over Tottenham in midweek, seeing off their top-four rivals 2-0 at Stamford Bridge to ease some of the pressure on manager Maurizio Sarri. The Italian has seen his future called into question in recent weeks on the back of a poor run of form, which includes three successive away league defeats by an aggregate score of 12-0, but supporters will hope that a corner has now been turned.