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Fulham are looking to replicate last season’s top-half finish, but it will be tough to repeat that feat in 2023/24.
Football betting sites have Chelsea down as favourites - but the odds are not as short as they usually are in this fixture.
Unless something spectacular happens between now and New Year’s Eve, the year 2023 will not be fondly remembered by Chelsea fans.
Of the teams that have featured in the Premier League since January 1, none have picked up fewer points than Chelsea.
The Blues have even managed to be outscored by Leicester City and Leeds United, two sides that were relegated in May.
The expectation was that Mauricio Pochettino would quickly get Chelsea back on track following his appointment in the summer.
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Yet the Argentine has endured a tough start to life at Stamford Bridge, with Chelsea having failed to win five of their first six top-flight fixtures.
Perhaps, though, they have been a little unlucky. Chelsea have underperformed their xG, which demonstrates that conversion of chances is a much bigger problem than the creation of them.
Their luck will surely turn some time soon. A 1-0 victory over Brighton in the Carabao Cup last Wednesday will have lifted the mood in the camp.
Chelsea are still dealing with a handful of injuries but this could be the game which brings their first away win since May.
Tip: Chelsea to win - 21/20 with ParimatchTight first half likely at Craven Cottage
Fulham outperformed expectations last term, securing a top-half berth following promotion from the Championship.
It was the first time they finished higher than Chelsea - who ranked third among west London clubs behind Brentford as well - since 1983.
This term could be more of a struggle, though. The vagaries of second-season syndrome are one thing, but there are more pressing concerns about Fulham’s ability to score enough goals.
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Raul Jimenez has so far been an unconvincing replacement for Aleksandar Mitrovic up front and only Burnley have a worse goals-per-game record than Fulham so far.
Betting sites believe Fulham will prioritise keeping things tight against the Blues, especially in the first half. Their likeliest route to victory is by keeping a clean sheet and then nicking a goal at the other end.
Five of Chelsea’s six matches have been level at the break, as have three of Fulham’s. We won't be surprised if there is nothing separating these two teams after 45 minutes of action.
Tip: Draw at half time - 6/5 with UnibetBroja can make impact up front
Nicolas Jackson was Chelsea’s match-winner against Brighton in the Carabao Cup but he is suspended for Monday’s match after picking up five yellow cards in the Premier League.
It is not yet clear who will replace him up front. The versatile Raheem Sterling could be deployed through the middle, while Mykhailo Mudryk is another contender.
The most natural pick would be Armando Broja. The only doubt is whether he is ready to start after only recently returning from a serious knee injury.
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Broja appeared off the bench in the recent 1-0 loss to Aston Villa and again featured as a substitute in the victory over Brighton.
Unlike Mudryk and Sterling, he is a natural centre-forward and he will be desperate for a chance to impress having only ever started two league games for Chelsea.
Broja showed his quality during a loan spell at Southampton in 2021/22 and he's our pick to find the back of the net in this west London derby against Fulham.
Tip: Armando Broja to score anytime - 9/5 with BetVictor
Greg Lea @GregLeaFootball
A London-based football specialist, Greg Lea has written for multiple top publications including The Guardian and ESPN with coverage of the Premier League, Champions League and World Cup. He contributes football betting tips to The Independent.