Chelsea have been many things this year. Solid at the back, creative in midfield, and sloppy in front of goal. But, they haven’t been able to kill off a game. Far too often Chelsea have looked to be the far superior team in the opening half, only to back off the throttle later (a trait often bemoaned by Jose Mourinho).
Perfect examples are away matches at both West Brom in the Premier League, and Galatasaray in the Champions League. Both games saw Chelsea as the dominant force in the beginning, yet conceding late after going up a goal. Be the problem tired legs or mental slippage, it can spell doom for the Blues with the top four as close as it has been all season.
Chelsea know what they have to do. Mourinho knows what they have to do. They have to be clinical. Manchester City haven’t always been leaps and bounds above the competition this season, but when they are on they dominate their opponents by pouring goals into the back of the net. Arsenal and Tottenham can both vouch for that.
There is a slight fear that when Chelsea make the short trip down the road to play Fulham in the West London Derby, the league leaders could be exposed due to their lack of sufficient rest. The visitors have traveled to and from Istanbul in the span of a few days, while the Cottagers haven’t played since Saturday. Any comfort that gives Fulham will be short lived as the Blues’ cup-tied players are highly likely to get the start on Saturday. Both January signings, Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah, will probably get a run out. It would be the first start for Salah in his Chelsea career. Oscar played very few minutes midweek and will likely get the nod, as well.
Chelsea will come to Craven Cottage holding onto their own Premier League destiny by the thread of a single point. If the Blues can replicate their form against Manchester United at home and kill this game off early, it will nullify any chance Fulham have of taking this game to the last minute, as they did against the Red Devils and, most recently, Liverpool.
Jose Mourinho will likely field a team that can maintain possession, instead of the usual defend-and-counter technique employed against the top sides. Look for Oscar, Matic, and Eden Hazard to see plenty of the ball this weekend. If this trio can play to their abilities, it will be a long 90 minutes for Fulham.
Emilio Gonzales is a Soccer and College Football writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Emilio_G184 and add him to your network on Google