By the time they entered the set… Good evening and welcome to live coverage of the West London Derby between Chelsea and Fulham which begins, as I think I noted earlier, with Chelsea in bronze medal position in West London (10th, behind Fulham in seventh and Brentford in eighth) for the first time since 1982-83 when they finished 18th in Division Two, Fulham were fourth and QPR won promotion in first place.
Twenty-three days ago, Fulham beat Chelsea 2-1 at the Cottage, Willian and Carlos Vinicius scored for the locals, Kalidou Koulibaly for Graham Potter’s team who tried to come back after Joao Félix’s red card in his debut. The forward on loan from Atlético Madrid is serving the third match of his suspension for that poisonous foul on Kenny Tete tonight, but the rest of his recruits from January’s plutocratic trolleybus race are available except Andrey Santos, who is in the championship from Libertadores U20 with Brazil, and Malo Gusto, who stays at Lyon until the end of the season. However, Potter should be able to call on Enzo Fernandez, the most expensive player in British football history, Noni Madueke, Mykhailo Mudryk, Benoit Badiashile, who played well on his debut at Palace and again at Anfield, and David Fofana. The strange thing about the more than £500m they have spent is that they have not addressed the problem between the networks, where the kindest thing I could say about Kepa Arrizabalaga and Edouard Mendy is that they are prone to error.
One player who might not be in the team tonight is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has had a horrible year, lost the Arsenal captaincy, was shelled by Mikel Arteta, found refuge in Barcelona and then told they didn’t want him anymore. , that brutal robbery, signed by his mentor Thomas Tuchel, who was fired just six days later. And now he’s been omitted from the Champions League squad, which means he can’t play against Dortmund at the Westfalenstadion who adored him on February 15, clearly implying that Chelsea want to get rid of him. If he’s in the team, he’ll be the strangest of all Chelsea signs, a total hoax for the player.
In his pre-match press conference, Potter, who has a win over Palace and a draw with Liverpool on the bench after that loss to Fulham, said Ben Chilwell, Reece James, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Raheem Sterling are available, though none. of them ready for 90 minutes. Fulham, in contrast to Chelsea’s seven absent due to injuries (Armando Broja, Christian Pulisic, Ngolo Kante, Wesley Fofana, Mateo Kovacic, Denis Zakaria and Mendy), only have Neeskens Kebano offside in their bid to win at Stamford Bridge for the first time since 1979 and completing his first double.
Marco Silva has new signings Sasa Lukic and Cedric Soares to call after two binary losses to Newcastle and Tottenham following their win over Chelsea. Silva, surely a candidate for manager of the season, was asked in his press conference about his memories of Stamford Bridge and spoke movingly of his first visit.
“I’ll tell you a memory for me that was the saddest, but one that comes clear to me: Ryan Mason had a serious injury when I was in Hull,” he said. “It comes to mind because it was probably my saddest day as a manager in football.
“It was that night, Chelsea against Hull, [memorable] Because of what happened to Ryan Mason. Every game is a different story and we have to write our own story tomorrow.”
Mason tried to recover from his fractured skull, but was forced to retire 12 months later, aged just 26. He has since gone on to coach, becoming the youngest manager in the Premier League at the age of 29 when he took over as caretaker. Tottenham manager in 2021 after the dismissal of José Mourinho.