This matchup pits together the best and worst clubs in the league, according to the current league table. Chelsea took over the top spot in the standings at the beginning of the month and have not given that up thanks to an unbeaten streak that has lasted 12 EPL matches.
On the other end of the spectrum is Fulham, with two draws in their last three contests but who have not won a league match since Jan. 1.
Still, anything can happen in this competitive league, so Chelsea have to be completely focused to ensure three points from this match.
Who will win?
When: Saturday, March 1
Where: Craven Cottage, London, England
Time (U.S.): 10 a.m. ET
Time (U.K.): 3 p.m. GMT
TV (U.S.): NBC Sports Network
TV (U.K.): Unavailable, listen at talkSport Radio
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
Odds (via Oddschecker): Chelsea (1-2), Fulham (7-1), Draw (7-2)
Top Storyline: Can Chelsea Balance EPL and UEFA Champions League?
Making a deep run in Champions League is tough enough with a full squad. It is even more difficult when every league match represents a tough challenge.
With just a one-point lead over Arsenal in the league table, Chelsea cannot afford to drop any points if they want to win a title. Jose Mourinho recently argued that a lack of intensity has cost the club, especially around the net, via BBC Sport:
We create but when we arrive in the final third of the pitch, the correct pass and right movement is something we don't have.
We are paying for that. In the Premier League we are losing points and in the Champions League we could have had a different result.
On the other hand, Mourinho must find time to rest players so they do not burn out before the end of the season. The manager already gave up on the FA Cup when he rested many of his starters against Manchester City.
There is enough depth on Chelsea to expect a positive result even without many key players. However, finding the right lineup to succeed on the road will be a key factor in this match.
Prediction: Chelsea 2, Fulham 0
Over the past few months, Chelsea have really been impressive defensively. Since the start of 2014, the Blues have only allowed two goals in eight league matches.
ESPN FC noted the best singular performance by the club:
FT: Chelsea beat Man City 1-0: defense triumphs over offense. First time in 62 PL matches City fail to score at home. pic.twitter.com/Nx5QOhhaUO— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) February 3, 2014
While Petr Cech has been impressive in goal, the truth is that not many balls are getting through thanks to the solid play of Gary Cahill and John Terry in the middle of the defense.
Although Fulham should get a boost of offense out of Kostas Mitroglou, it will not be enough to get onto the scoresheet.
On the attack, Oscar should be fresh enough to make a big impact after only coming in as a late sub against Galatasaray. The same can be said about Samuel Eto'o, who has not scored since his hat-trick against Manchester United more than a month ago.
Chelsea might be a bit more aggressive in this match, but they still will not want to risk opening up for a counter-attack. For this reason, you can expect long possession as they work to get better looks at goal.
The talented men up front will be able to take care of business and score two goals to help secure a big victory for the Blues.
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