Set your alarm clocks on Sunday, it is an early start against visitors with not far to travel. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton detail the derby…
Chelsea’s only Sunday midday kick-off since West Bromwich Albion’s visit in December 2016 is the first SW6 showdown for four-and-a-half years. The Whites returned to the Premier League thanks to victory in the play-off final over John Terry’s Aston Villa at Wembley. Only two stops separate the two rivals on the District Line, but the gap between the Blues in fourth and bottom side Fulham currently stands at 20 points.
As well as west London, local skirmishes will take place in the north of the capital at Arsenal and on Merseyside at Anfield. By coincidence it was a similar situation in the capital when this fixture was first staged in April 1911 – see our ‘We Have History’ part for more of that later.
Chelsea are seeking to extend our unbeaten run against Fulham to 18 games in all competitions.
— Key stat
This is the second successive capital clash in the league for the Blues. Last weekend was the first this season in which Fulham earned more league points than their postcode neighbours. The Cottagers eventually edged a five-goal game against fellow strugglers Southampton, while Tottenham inflicted the Blues’ first league defeat since Newcastle in May.
On a more positive tack, the next Chelsea goal at the Bridge in the Premier League will be our 1,000th in the competition since 1992/93 – only Manchester United and Arsenal have scored more.
The first was netted against Oldham by Mick Harford way back on 15 August 1992, and the 900th was an Eden Hazard penalty past West Ham’s Adrian – exactly 24 years later to the day. Will the next milestone be inflicted on Fulham, like our 400th scored by Eidur Gudjohnsen against them in 2004?
Eden Hazard needs three goals to join an elite group, whose members include the likes of ‘Gatling Gun’ George Hilsdon and Didier Drogba, to have netted a century of goals for the Blues.
Premier League top-scorers
Sergio Aguero (Man City) 8
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) 8
Eden Hazard (Chelsea) 7
Harry Kane (Tottenham) 7
Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) 7
Glenn Murray (Brighton) 7
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) 7
Raheem Sterling (Man City) 7
Kepa Arrizabalaga’s shut-out against PAOK on Thursday was his 10th in all competitions since arriving from Athletic Bilbao.
Premier League clean sheets
Claudio Ranieri achieved the Cottagers’ second victory of the campaign in his first match in charge. He had just replaced Slavisa Jokanovic – the first player he signed after taking the helm at Chelsea in 2000.
The Italian faces a daunting prospect: none of our former Premier League coaches has achieved a victory on their return to the Bridge with another club in the league. Of the 13 attempts, the Blues have won eight and five have been drawn.
Ranieri visits account for two of those: 1-1 in May 2016 and 3-0 January 2017, both with Leicester. He was also defeated 1-0 in 2009 while in charge at Juventus.
This is Chelsea’s second match this season against a team elevated to the Premier League in May. The Blues have lost just one of the previous 52 home league games against newly promoted opposition, a sequence that includes 43 Blues wins and eight draws. The most recent were Cardiff, beaten 4-1 in September and currently one place above this weekend’s visitors.
On Wednesday, Maurizio Sarri and the team are in Wolverhampton. After a bright return to the top flight, Wanderers are without a win in six having lost to Cardiff on Friday night.
Chelsea Women are in cup action on Wednesday at Kingsmeadow with the penultimate group stage game against Yeovil Town – beaten 5-0 at the same ground in the league last weekend.
Chelsea Under-18s’ defence of the FA Youth Cup against Man United, set for 7pm on Monday 17 December at the 12,000-capacity Leigh Sports Village, Greater Manchester, will be free to attend on the night.
On Thursday against PAOK, Chelsea became the second English side to win their first five Europa League group-stage games, after Spurs did likewise in 2013/14. Maurizio Sarri has won every group stage match in the competition, with Napoli as well as the Blues.
Our current run of eight consecutive Europa League wins, stretching from the 2012/13 semi-finals to this season, is the second longest in the competition’s history. The record belongs to Atletico Madrid, who managed 15 in succession between November 2011 and October 2012.
What a night to remember for Callum Hudson-Odoi who scored one goal and set up another, watched by England manager Gareth Southgate. At 18 years and 22 days he now has the honour of being Chelsea’s most youthful goalscorer in European competitions. He is actually younger than Leo Messi and Raul were when they first netted in a UEFA competition match.
Sadly, it was announced this week that Wally Hinshelwood, who played for both Chelsea and Fulham, has died at the age of 89. The father (though a good few inches shorter) of former Crystal Palace players Paul and Martin Hinshelwood (the latter a former Chelsea coach), he was ‘a brilliant ball player on his day’, one newspaper noted, with well-placed centres from either wing.
Lambeth-born Wally was spotted playing in Battersea Park by Fulham manager Jack Peart and joined the staff at Craven Cottage aged 17, but his progress was interrupted by National Service.
In January 1951 he arrived at the Bridge in exchange for Jimmy Bowie and debuted in a 1-1 draw at home to Stoke. Briefly a regular starter for Billy Birrell, the winger’s only goal in 14 appearances for the Blues was an equaliser at Sunderland in March, and he returned to the Whites at the end of the season. Spells at Reading (1952-56), Bristol City (1956-60) and Millwall (1960/61) followed.
All at Chelsea Football Club would like to extend our thoughts and condolences to Wally’s friends and family at this sad time.
THE BEST THAT CAN HAPPEN THIS WEEKEND…
Pensioners are the pride of the postcode.
Premier League fixtures
Cardiff 2 Wolves 1
Crystal Palace v Burnley 3pm
Huddersfield v Brighton 3pm
Leicester v Watford 3pm
Manchester City v Bournemouth 3pm
Newcastle v West Ham 3pm
Southampton v Manchester United 5.30pm - BT Sport
Chelsea v Fulham 12 noon - Sky Sports
Arsenal v Tottenham 2.05pm - Sky Sports
Liverpool v Everton 4.15pm - Sky Sports
Bournemouth v Huddersfield 7.45pm
Brighton v Crystal Palace 7.45pm
West Ham v Cardiff 7.45pm
Watford v Manchester City 8pm - BT Sport