Chelsea maintained their top-four challenge with a 2-1 victory over neighbours Fulham at Craven Cottage in the West London derby.
Maurizio Sarri’s men got off to a good start and should have been at least two up before Gonzalo Higuaín opened the scoring for the Blues on 16 minutes with a high-quality finish from Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross.
Fulham, who sacked former Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri midweek and replaced him with former Blues player Scott Parker, showed a spirited display and equalised from a corner, with Callum Chambers (27) taking advantage of poor zonal marking to bring the relegation-bound side back in the game.
They were only level for four minutes however as Jorginho – the target of criticism from both the media and certain fans in recent weeks – silenced them with an exceptional finish (31), showing what he’s capable of and how important he is to the team as a whole.
Chelsea spurned multiple chances throughout to further add to their advantage and were grateful in the end to count on the returning Kepa Arrizabalaga – with saves from Joe Bryan, Tom Cairney and Aleksandar Mitrovic – to prevent Fulham from equalising once more.
Chelsea thankfully held on to secure their first Premier League away win of 2019 and close the gap on fourth-placed Manchester United to two points, with a game still in hand against Brighton (Date TBA).
Possession (%) – Fulham 36%, Chelsea 64%
Shots – Fulham 12, Chelsea 20
Shots on Target – Fulham 5, Chelsea 7
Corners – Fulham 5, Chelsea 4
Fouls – Fulham 11, Chelsea 10
Offsides – Fulham 2, Chelsea 0
Yellow/Red Cards – Fulham 2/0, Chelsea 1/0
(Bonus Stat) 50 – Eden Hazard is only the third Chelsea player to both score and assist 50 Premier League goals [81 goals, 50 assists] after Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba. World class.
• Good first-half, average second. The game should have been wrapped up at HT.
• Should have scored 4 or 5 even already; Higuain hat-trick even.
• Chuffed for Jorginho, that’ll silence a few. Great goal as well.
• Great performances from Christensen and Kepa.
• RLC > Barkley from now on. Not even a debate.
• The likes of Hazard, Kante and Azpilicueta need to get a rest soon. Starting to show visible signs of tiredness.
Chelsea Player/Manager Ratings
Kepa – 8, MOTM. Showed why how highly regarded is by the club with a great performance between the sticks. The ‘incident’ from Wembley is now forgotten.
Azpilicueta – 7, Good first-half, average second. Great assist for Higuain’s opener and offered defensive solidity throughout.
Rudiger – 6, A below-par performance from the German. Looked uncomfortable all game.
Christensen – 7, Another good outing for the young CB. Needs consistency (constant run of games) now for him to kick on and deliver impressive performances.
Emerson – 7, Likewise to Azpilicueta – had a better first-half than second. Nonetheless, still showed more to back up the belief of many in that he should the main LB from now on.
Kanté – 7, A quieter display compared to recent displays from the Frenchman but still played a good game.
Jorginho – 8, Impressive performance from the Italian – will definitely silence with this one. Great goal and easily could have had 2/3 assists if chances were taken by others. The sort of performance that showed how integral he is to this team and SarriBall. Booked.
Barkley – 6, Hard-working as always but still don’t understand how he’s being picked ahead of the likes of Loftus-Cheek and Kovacic. Form has been more or less non-existent since October last year for me.
Willian – 6, Typical Willian performance. Nothing else needs to be said.
Higuaín – 7, Happy to see him on the scoresheet once again but should be taking be the match ball home for scoring a hat-trick in my opinion. Wasted a couple of changes.
Hazard – 7, Glimpses on show of how influential he – another assist, could have had a goal too – is but clearly still showing signs of tiredness from the recent fixture congestion.
Kovačić (68′ for Jorginho) – 6, Came on to help Jorginho get some rest. Most probably will start against Kiev on Thursday.
Pedro (74′ for Hazard) – 6, Nothing special. Helped with the late pressure from Fulham.
Loftus-Cheek (78′ for Barkley) – 7, Showed what he can do in the 10-minute cameo he had and why he should be starting from now on.
Maurizio Sarri – 7, Stuck to his words on that multiple changes would happen, although some of those were questionable. With that said, once again showed that his stubbornness is starting to fade away and is becoming more flexible pre and in-game. Hopefully, some of the youngsters will get a chance against Kiew in the Europa League next week.