From right down the road, Chelsea’s nearest neighbours came in for a fight. In spite of their efforts, Chelsea once again reminded the world why London is Blue. Fulham entered the matchup nine points off Newcastle who currently sits 17th in the standings and therefore faced an uphill battle to get out of the relegation zone. Scott Parker has had a rollercoaster season but their inconsistencies upfront has caused them to suffer in terms of performance and to presently reside in 18th position and a fair distance away from safety. They managed to snatch several upsets which include a victory over Liverpool in early February. Despite their vibrant athletic football and intensity, Chelsea was able to detain Fulham’s attack. Édouard Mendy came up big and demonstrated why he is the current #1 GK as his tremendous saves helped Chelsea keep a clean sheet. The Senegalese keeper now sits 2nd in the PL with the most cleansheets (16). Tuchel made five changes to the eleven from the UCL match against Madrid with Billy Gilmour making a huge return to the starting lineup. The changes to the side were impactful as the Blues struggled in midfield. Nevertheless, Chelsea secured their 15th win under Thomas Tuchel in all competitions and increased the gap between West Ham to six points in the top-four race. Our fellow writers from the Chelsea Social give their takes regarding the Chelsea vs Fulham match.
Chelsea vs Fulham: Quick Recap
The opening 10 minutes of the game were feisty and nervy as Chelsea struggled to get out of their own half. Scott Parker implemented a bold yet effective pressing and forced several mistakes from the home side. After Chelsea weathered the storm, they created several quick-counter attacking opportunities down the flanks with Werner being the catalyst of these moves. His vibrant runs opened up space for other attackers making the Fulham defenders skirmish in vital situations. In the 11th minute, A sublime over-the-top pass from the veteran, Thiago Silva found Mason Mount on the edge of the box who controlled the ball perfectly, then relayed a wonderful precise through ball to Kai Havertz who squeezed it past former PSG keeper Alphonse Areola to put the Blues 1-0 up. An unfortunate miss from Hakim Ziyech moments later kept Fulham’s hopes alive and then the visitors threatened to equalise, especially in the last minutes before halftime whereby Mendy made a quick acrobatic reflex save to keep Chelsea 1-0 up following former Blue Ola Aina’s powerful shot down that deflected on target.
In the second half, Chelsea managed to pounce on another over-the-top ball in the 48th minute to double their lead. This time the long ball came from Ben Chilwell who delivered an exquisite cross-field pass to Havertz who played a quick 1-2 with his German compatriot Timo Werner who laid if off exquisitely for Kai to run in behind Fulham’s defence and slot it into the far bottom corner. Throughout the half, Chelsea struggled to win the midfield battle, and as a consequence, gave Fulham plenty of possession to work with as they tried to work their way back into the match. However, their inability to break us down in the final 3rd led us to victory and closer to our top four aspirations.
Chelsea will now face another strenuous week as they face Real Madrid in the second leg of the UCL semi-finals and then Manchester City in the Premier League. So without further ado, let us share the reactions from The Chelsea Social regarding the Chelsea vs Fulham match.
A stress-relieving result and another key three points. Chelsea made some key changes and it showed. We struggled in vast amounts of the match but our talent paid off which is important during the last stretch of the season. I was glad to see the Scotsman, Billy Gilmour, back in the line-up as we haven’t seen much of him during the season. He struggled for a bit but dealt with the pressure fantastically. The whole team managed to once again weather the storm with class and composure. Despite having good possession of the ball, Fulham never really posed any real danger. Their only real efforts came in the first half and primarily from an Ola Aina shot right before halftime. Mason Mount and Kai Havertz were brilliant as their class was in full show for the football world to see.
Timo Werner also was very effective in attack as his runs caused the Fulham defence much trouble. Werner definitely deserves more credit than he gets. Not only has Werner helped the team tremendously off the ball, he entered double digits in direct goal contributions which is an impressive feat. Adding to this, he is the first Chelsea player to reach double digits goals and assists in his debut season since Eden Hazard in the 2012/13 reason. Now onto Real Madrid who will come to the Bridge this Wednesday for the second leg of the UCL semi-finals. Up the Chels!
It might not have been the most comfortable performance, but in a race for the top four, the result is all that matters at this stage. In this case, it was the perfect outcome for the Blues – a two nil win which takes us away from our rivals (for now), and, barring a total breakdown, two or three more wins will get us over the line. The side was changed from the midweek game, as well as in preparation for the return leg against Real Madrid, and that meant Gilmour slotted into midfield. It was refreshing to see him back in the team and although there were a couple of subpar moments, he held his own in a tough game. However, the real accolades must go to Kai Havertz and Mason Mount who ran the show, with the former scoring a brace and the latter showing yet again why he is our player of the season. Overall, solid performance and, more importantly, a crucial three points.
The Blues went into the West London derby with a highly rotated side. Billy Gilmour got a chance from the cold but did seem a bit off and it was more than weird to see Ziyech dropping into the double pivot with Gilmour to help cover. Despite this, Chelsea was able to grab hold of the match with an expertly worked goal by Havertz. Timo Werner was a constant threat in the match as well and registered another assist for the 2nd goal, by Havertz.
Overall, the Chelsea vs Fulham match it was a good showing from the Blues. Two goals and yet another clean sheet. The race for the top four is becoming a bit more comfortable now but plenty of work left to take care of. This was a great performance and result considering the rotation, new player’s roles, and build-up to Madrid on Wednesday.
Considering the stage of the season and the importance of the match for both teams (albeit playing for totally different incentives), this Chelsea vs Fulham clash was always going to be an intriguing match. Adding to the context is the fact that these two are London rivals!
As I noted in my detailed match review, Fulham were the brighter of the two teams and did a genuinely good job at pressing us high up the pitch and causing us angst in terms of trying to generate momentum from the back. During this time, Mendy was called into action and would be required to do so on a couple of more occasions to play a key role in helping secure the three points. However, the Blues did what they do best in recent times under Tuchel, stay resilient and keep themselves in the contest.
Chelsea’s two goals brilliant to watch from all perspectives. From the initial long-range passes (Silva and Chilwell), the touch and link-up with either Mount and Werner, and the finishes by Havertz for both was simply sublime. In a game that was billed as being a potential ‘trap’ for the Blues given they might have had an eye on Real Madrid (which they kind of did given their significant rotation), I was proud of the team selected, including the young Billy Gilmour who did himself no harm in pushing his case for some more minutes to help alleviate the pressure from Kante, Jorginho and Kovacic (when he returns). Overall, a pleasing performance and result! Now to re-produce a similar showing and result against Real Madrid for the 2nd leg semi-final at Stamford bridge! Come on you Blues!
Written by Rey, Noah, Travis and RJ
Edited by Ross-John (RJ) Bonaccorsi (@RJ_Goodthings)
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