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Chelsea vs Fulham. Premier League.

Stamford BridgeAttendance39,643.

Chelsea 1

  • C Palmer (49th minute pen)

Fulham 0

    Chelsea 1-0 Fulham: Cole Palmer's fifth penalty of the season clinches West London derby victory for Blues

    Report and free match highlights as Chelsea's Cole Palmer scores his ninth Premier League goal of the season to seal 1-0 win over Fulham in the West London derby; Fulham felt Chelsea's Malo Gusto should have been sent off in the first half

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    FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Chelsea's 1-0 win over Fulham

    Cole Palmer's penalty secured a 1-0 victory for Chelsea against local rivals Fulham as Mauricio Pochettino's side won a third consecutive Premier League game for the first time all season.

    Palmer dispatched his fifth spot kick of the campaign with trademark composure after Issa Diop was adjudged to have brought down Raheem Sterling on the stroke of half-time at Stamford Bridge.

    Chelsea had the better of the game after the 21-year-old's opener but produced more missed chances following their Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg defeat to Middlesbrough on Tuesday, ensuring the game hung in the balance right until the end.

    The Blues held on, though, thanks in part to some smart saves by goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic, the narrow victory providing a much-needed boost for the home fans and moving Pochettino's side up to eighth in the Premier League table while Fulham remain 13th.

    It was a frustrating afternoon for the visitors, with Marco Silva later bemoaning a "clear mistake from the VAR" after the officials decided not to upgrade a Malo Gusto yellow card to a red following a studs-up challenge on Willian in the first half.

    "It's a clear red card," added the Fulham manager. "It's difficult for Anthony Taylor to see if it's a red card. We have to be fair with him because the moment is really quick. In the Premier League, in 10 moments like that one, nine have been a red card."

    Pochettino, meanwhile, backed the decision of the officials, suggesting Chelsea were due some luck after Gusto was sent off in similar circumstances against Aston Villa in September.

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    James Cole and Nick Wright reflect on a tight west London derby between Fulham and Chelsea which saw the home side grab their third straight win in the league.

    "I remember the game against Aston Villa, it was a red card and I didn't complain about that, but today it was a yellow card," said the Chelsea boss.

    "I have a very good relationship [with Marco Silva]. He is a great person and a great coach. And of course, if I'm put in his place, I would tell you it's a red card. I understand.

    "But, sometimes, this type of situation is against you and the view of the referee is different. They thought it was a yellow card and it's good for us."

    Player ratings

    Chelsea: Petrovic (8), Gusto (6), Disasi (7), Silva (7), Colwill (7), Caicedo (7), Fernandez (7), Gallagher (7), Sterling (7), Palmer (8), Broja (6).

    Subs: Madueke (7), Chilwell (6), Chukwuemeka (n/a), Gilchrist (n/a).

    Fulham: Leno (7), Tete (6), Tosin (7), Diop (6), Robinson (7), Palhinha (7), Cairney (7), Willian (6), Wilson (6), Pereira (6), Jimenez (6).

    Subs: Castagne (6), De Cordova-Reid (6), Muniz (6), Lukic (6).

    Player of the match: Cole Palmer

    How Chelsea edged to victory

    Pochettino vowed to bring smiles back to Chelsea faces in his matchday programme notes following the midweek loss at Middlesbrough but they were slow to get going before the opener.

    Team news

    • Armando Broja led the line for Chelsea in place of the absent Nicolas Jackson while Ben Chilwell was named on the bench having recovered from injury.
    • Tom Cairney returned to Fulham's midfield as captain in place of Harrison Reed, while Kenny Tete and Harry Wilson also started.

    Armando Broja headed an Enzo Fernandez cross narrowly wide but otherwise struggled to make an impact up front, with Fulham repelling Chelsea's attacks and threatening at the other end too.

    The visitors went close to breaking the deadlock just before the half-hour mark when Harry Wilson, getting some joy up against makeshift Chelsea left-back Levi Colwill, forced a sharp save from Petrovic from Antonee Robinson's teasing cross.

    Chelsea's Enzo Fernandez holds off Fulham's Joao Palhinha
    Image: Chelsea's Enzo Fernandez holds off Fulham's Joao Palhinha

    Chelsea then had their close shave when right-back Gusto caught former Blue Willian on the ankle with his studs. The travelling fans called for a red card but referee Anthony Taylor opted for yellow and VAR did not intervene.

    The hosts continued to push and got their reward when Palmer's brilliant reverse pass, the only standout moment of quality in the first half, released Sterling, who went to ground for Chelsea's penalty after slight contact from Issa Diop.

    Palmer stepped up and sent Bernd Leno the wrong way to take his goal tally to nine this season and make it five successful penalties out of five following his move from Manchester City.

    Cole Palmer celebrates his goal for Chelsea
    Image: Palmer scored his ninth Premier League goal of the season

    Chelsea started the second period strongly, with the excellent Palmer curling a shot narrowly wide, Sterling striking the outside of the post with a header and Broja failing to connect properly with a low Gusto cross as the hosts piled on the pressure.

    Fulham provided a reminder of their attacking threat when Raul Jimenez forced an athletic, one-handed save from Petrovic and, up at the other end, Chelsea's attacks continued to come to nothing.

    Conor Gallagher fired a shot against the upright and substitute Noni Madueke forced a save from Bernd Leno in stoppage time, but the closing stages were extremely nervy for the hosts as they struggled to manage the game and invited Fulham pressure.

    Chelsea's Cole Palmer controls the ball under pressure from Fulham's Antonee Robinson (AP)
    Image: Palmer controls the ball under pressure from Antonee Robinson

    The visitors won a succession of free-kicks in dangerous areas, with Chelsea repeatedly struggling to clear their lines, but Silva's side, also beaten in the first leg of their Carabao Cup final against Liverpool in midweek, couldn't carve out clear chances.

    Chelsea were therefore able to celebrate an important victory at the final whistle, the positive mood enhanced by the return of Ben Chilwell as a substitute following four months out.

    Poch: Narrow win can help us grow

    Chelsea head coach Mauricio Pochettino said: "Of course, the first half wasn't the first half that we sought or we planned.

    "Something happened before the game. I'm not going to explain it but it affected the team a little bit.

    "In the second half we started really, really well. I thought we played really well for 30 minutes. We should have scored another goal or two and killed the game.

    "But when you don't kill the game, always in the last few minutes you can concede a few actions and set-pieces and things like this.

    "They had good potential from those situations but we defended well. It was good for us to suffer. This kind of game helps us to grow and give confidence in the way we are working."

    Chelsea's Moises Caicedo (left) and Fulham's Raul Jimenez (right) battle for the ball during the Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London. Picture date: Saturday January 13, 2024.
    Image: Raul Jimenez holds off Moises Caicedo

    Of Chelsea's improving Premier League form, he added: "I think if you see the last period of the competition, you see we were one of the best teams in terms of performances and results.

    "The only result we didn't get, against Middlesbrough, affected our run and the perceptions of the people, but if you go back on the last month, you see we were one of the better sides.

    "Of course, you accept criticism. This is part of the process, part of our reality. But the most important thing is that we are strong and we know the way we need to keep working. The players today were very professional.

    "I was very happy with the first 40 minutes of the second half. We performed very well, with more freedom. And then it was good to see this young team defend the last 10 or 15 minutes, fighting and doing everything to keep the result and get the three points."

    Silva: Red card would have changed game

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    Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino says he would feel the same as Fulham's Marco Silva if one of his players were caught with a similar tackle to Malo Gusto's.

    Fulham boss Marco Silva said of the Gusto booking: "It's a clear mistake from the VAR. It's a clear red card.

    "It's difficult for Anthony Taylor to see if it's a red card. We have to be fair with him because the moment is really quick. In the Premier League, in 10 moments like that one, nine have been a red card."

    Of Fulham's performance, he added: "Chelsea started better than us. The way we started was not at our best level. We had some difficulties to connect some passes. It's much more our fault. It's something in which we are normally strong.

    Chelsea's Malo Gusto, right, challenges for the ball with Fulham's Willian during the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Fulham at Stamford Bridge stadium in London, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
    Image: Malo Gusto avoided a red card for a first-half tackle on Willian

    "After that, the game started to be more balanced. The second half was more broken and we took some risks. They should have scored more but we could have scored as well.

    "The second half was intense but not really well-played by both sides. With the red card in the 35th minute, it would have had a huge impact."

    Chelsea's improving form - Opta stats

    • Over half of Chelsea's Premier League wins this season have come since the start of December (five out of nine), with only Liverpool (17) picking up more points in the competition in that time than the Blues (15).
    • Chelsea remain unbeaten at home against Fulham in the Premier League (P17 W11 D6). Only Arsenal have hosted a specific opponent more often at home in the competition without ever losing (P24 W16 D8 vs Southampton).
    • Cole Palmer is just the third different Chelsea player to score at least five penalties in a single Premier League season after Frank Lampard (five in 2012/13 and 10 in 2009/10) and Jorginho (6 in 2021/22 and 7 in 2020/21).
    • Raheem Sterling has won three penalties in the Premier League for Chelsea this season, more than any other player. His 26 in the competition overall is at least three more than anyone else.
    • Since his first Premier League season in 2018/19, Fulham's Issa Diop has conceded seven penalties, only Wilfred Ndidi (eight) has conceded more during that time.

    What's next?

    Live EFL Cup

    Chelsea contest an EFL Cup semi-final second leg against Middlesbrough next, which takes place on January 23, live on Sky Sports Football, kick-off 8pm.

    Following that, an FA Cup fourth-round meeting with Aston Villa awaits on January 26, before returning to Premier League duty on January 31 against Liverpool, kick-off 8.15pm.

    Fulham are also busy with cup commitments. They play the second leg of their respective EFL Cup semi-final against Liverpool on January 24, live on Sky Sports Football, kick-off 8pm.

    Newcastle are the next visitors to Craven Cottage in the FA Cup on January 27.

    Live EFL Cup

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