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Fulham vs Chelsea - Cottagers out to pile pressure on under-fire Graham Potter in huge west London derby
A beleaguered Graham Potter takes his Chelsea team to Craven Cottage exclusively live on BT Sport this Thursday evening.
A huge clash awaits this Thursday evening as Fulham play host to Chelsea in the Premier League on BT Sport in a game that could have huge ramifications for both sides.
Will Fulham secure a landmark win over their near neighbours and underline their status as one of the most in-form teams in the Premier League? Or will Graham Potter secure a much-needed result to ensure west London remains blue for another year?
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West London bragging rights up for grabs in biggest derby in decades
Rarely has a local derby been less competitively contested than Fulham and Chelsea's with the blue corner of west London almost completely dominant.
Fulham have not won a west London derby in 21 attempts since a 1-0 victory back in March 2006 at Craven Cottage.
In the history of the fixture, Fulham have won just 11 of 87 meetings between the two teams and just once since 1979.
While Chelsea don't consider The Cottagers as one of their main rivals, that feeling is not shared from the other direction as Fulham gear up for arguably the biggest fixture of their season.
And it represents an opportunity for Fulham to lay down a marker as they enter a west London derby as fancied to win as they've been in a long while.
Marco Silva's side sit seventh, three points and three places ahead of 10th-placed Chelsea heading into the clash after an outstanding start to the season for the traditional yo-yo club.
While Aleksandar Mitrovic is a huge miss through suspension for Fulham, Silva knows there will still not be a better time to face a Chelsea team who are in complete disarray.
If Fulham come out on top over their rivals a half hour away, it'll be a victory toasted by Cottagers supporters for many years to come.
Potter feeling the pressure already after horrible start to Chelsea spell
Even by Chelsea's standards, this would be a quick dismissal. Graham Potter, who only took over from Thomas Tuchel in September, is second-favourite with the bookmakers to be the next coach sacked after Everton's Frank Lampard.
But it's been a disastrous start to life in west London for the former Brighton boss and it only appears to be getting worse and worse.
Twelve Premier League games has resulted in only four wins and the loss to Manchester City on Thursday was Chelsea's fifth during that run.
A 4-0 humbling by the same opponents in the FA Cup on Sunday evening only made matters worse and Potter appears a man who is completely unsure about his best XI despite Chelsea's continiously excessive outlay in the transfer market.
The pressure looks to be telling on the 47-year-old. Potter hit out at the gathered media in the pre-FA Cup press conference by branding some reporters' questions "stupid" and admitting he has to "hide how p***** off he is" to protect the club.
After the FA Cup defeat, Potter admitted that Chelsea were "suffering as a football club" after hearing away supporters chant his predecessor Tuchel's name.
It hasn't helped that some pundits and former Chelsea players are calling for an instant improvement, none more vociferously than Frank Leboeuf who insists Potter should be sacked.
Nothing less than a win will do for Potter on Thursday night in a game that Chelsea fans have been well accustomed to winning while a derby defeat is likely to spell serious trouble for Potter.
Willian out to make his mark against his former employers
Willian will face off against his former side Chelsea for the first time wearing the white and black of Fulham on Thursday hoping to remind fans what they are missing.
When the Brazilian left Chelsea after seven largely successful seasons to move north and join Arsenal, few were questioning the wisdom of allowing the winger to leave for a rival.
That position was justified after an overpaid Willian put in a disastrous season in red-and-white and left by mutual consent to join Corinthians back in his homeland.
But the 34-year-old clearly felt he had some unfinished business back in the Premier League and joined newly-promoted Fulham to not a great deal of fanfare this summer.
It's proven a successful move for high-flying Fulham with Willian featuring in 11 of their 14 Premier League games since arriving at Craven Cottage, scoring once and assisting twice.
There'll be mixed emotions in taking on his former employers come Thursday but Fulham supporters will hope there's no sentimentality involved for the ex-Chelsea favourite when he crosses the white line.
With Aleksandar Mitrovic out through suspension, it could be down to the veteran Brazilian to steal the show in a huge west London derby.