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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
September 21, 2013
• 12:30 PM
• Stamford Bridge, London
Referee: A. Marriner
• Attendance: 41608
J. Obi Mikel 84'
That's just about all from me, @RyanBailey37, thanks for joining me and until next time, goodbye!
Second-half goals from Oscar and Mikel were enough to overcome a hard-working but unambitious Fulham side. There's still a lot of work for Mourinho and his side to do but three points is three points and they are sitting pretty at the summit this evening on goal difference.
FULL-TIME! That's it, after a lot of huffing and puffing, Chelsea seal the victory and in the process, go top of the Barclays Premier League.
That was Mikel's first ever Chelsea goal in his 259th game for the club - I told you he wasn't known for his goal scoring prowess!
Chelsea just seeing the remaining minutes out here as the spectators head for the exits. We will have three minutes of added time.
Kevin De Bruyne
Couple of changes after that goal- Hazard is replaced by De Bruyne and Kasami makes way for Rodallega. Too little too late for the visitors though.
Assist John Terry
Goal John Obi Mikel
GOAL! John Obi Mikel scores his first ever Premier League goal to seal the victory with a little over five minutes remaining. Lampard's corner is knocked into the Nigerian's path by Terry before he clinically sweeps it home from close range. Game, set and match!
SAVE! Chelsea win their eleventh corner of the game and nearly double their lead through a bullet header from Torres but Stockdale is equal to the task.
STAT! Fulham have managed only 11 shots from inside the penalty area this season, a divisional low.
The noise levels inside Stamford Bridge rise as Frank Lampard is introduced for the industrious Andre Schurrle
SHOT! Hazard gets a shot off on target under the attention of Amorebieta, but he can't get sufficient power to trouble Stockdale.
A rare foray into Chelsea's half by the visitors breaks down immediately, allowing Torres to break with speed. The Spaniard does brilliantly to evade the attention of several white shirts but his pass is to no one in particular - typifying the game so far.
However, it's difficult to see where a Fulham equaliser is coming from. Mind you, Basel scored two goals out of nothing on Wednesday here so all hope is not lost for the Cottagers.
SUB! Kacaniklic's largely ineffective afternoon is over as he's replaced by 20-year-old debutant Buomesca Tue Na Banga. Just twenty minutes remaining but don't write off the visitors just yet!
PENALTY? Ramires goes down under the challenge of Amorebieta but once again the referee waves away his strong appeals for a spot-kick. Replays suggest there was slight contact but the midfielder went down a bit too easily.
Once again, the game has entered a bit of a lull. Fulham don't seem particularly bothered they're losing this match and heading for another Premier League defeat. It hasn't been a classic, that's for sure!
Samuel Eto'o, who still awaits his first Chelsea goal, is replaced by Fernando Torres as the Cameroon veteran receives a generous applause. Meanwhile, Damien Duff makes way for Taarabt as the visitors make their first change.
Ivanovic slips in Ramires on the right, but he can't get to the byline in time to keep the cross in. Chelsea are in control, but they aren't sparkling.
STAT: That was Oscar's sixth Premier League goal, while five of those have all been the opening strike.
While all the talk was about how Mourinho could change this game by making a substitution, all eyes are now on his counterpart Martin Jol, He has a number of options with Karagounis, Taarabt and Rodallega all available. What do you think? @RyanBailey37
Schurrle, who has been the stand-out player this evening, squares the ball to Mikel but he drags the ball wide. The midfielder is not known for his goalscoring prowess!
CHANCE! Fulham come close to snatching an equaliser almost instantly, but Sidwell is again off target with his header following Kasami's free kick. The visitors really should have a goal to their name today.
Stockdale won't want to see that again as he parries Schurrle's tame shot before Eto'o diverts the loose ball into the path of Oscar who slots into the empty net, albeit through the legs of Richardson.
The Brazilian fires home from close-range to give Chelsea the lead just five minutes into the second-half
Three successive corners apply the pressure on this pretty steady looking Fulham defence but once again, they hold firm. Frank Lampard is warming up. Is he what the hosts need?
Just to confirm, no changes from either side at the break as Chelsea look a lot more purposeful at the start of this second-half.
We're back under-way as Fulham kick-off, attacking the end which houses their travelling supporters.
There's over £120 million worth of talent on the Chelsea bench this evening but perhaps it's not all doom and gloom at the Bridge. Three points for the hosts would send them top of the Premier League, after Liverpool's defeat earlier.
STAT: Fulham have conceded more corners than any other Barclays Premier League side so far this season (37), including this evening.
Just a reminder of the Chelsea bench this evening: Schwarzer, Azpilicueta, Essien, Lampard, De Bruyne, Willian, Torres
STAT: Andre Schurrle completed 100% of his 16 passes in the first half with 69% being in the final third while he also created 3 chances, more than any other player.
TWITTER: Plenty of Chelsea fans venting their frustration with another lacklustre performance by their side thus far. Many of you are calling for the inclusion of the likes of Torres, Lampard and Mata. Of course, the former can't be called upon because he's not even in the match day squad today but who would you like to see come on in the second period? Get in touch @RyanBailey37
For the most part, Chelsea dominated proceedings but did little with their possession as Fulham remained resolute. It should be a fascinating second-half with the pressure well and truly on Mourinho's side.
The visitors have had the best chance of the game so far when Bent should have really fired home from twelve yards. Otherwise, it's been a game of few goalmouth incidents with both sides lacking the cutting edfe in the final third.
A couple of boos ring around the Bridge as the players make their way off for the interval. It wasn't the most inspiring half but Fulham will be delighted so far.
You could have guessed! The set-piece fails to clear the first man and is cleared, signalling the referee's half-time whistle.
A hint of desperation about Fulham's defending there but at the other end, they've won a corner as we enter stoppage time...
Best moment for the Blues as a neat one-two between Cole and Hazard on the edge of the box causes some pinball in the Fulham box before it eventually falls for the on-rushing Ivanovic, who drives it goal wards but Stockdale saves well with his feet.
Moments later, Hazard nearly has the fans off their seats but his crisp drive is dragged narrowly wide. Chelsea are turning the screw now...
Frustration grows around the Bridge as Cahill steps forward out of defence to pick out Hazard but the Belgian's attempt at a cross is deplorable. Five minutes until the break.
All of a sudden, it's the visitors who are playing the attacking football as some neat exchange-play between Duff and Richardson creates the space for Sidwell but he misplaces his pass.
CORNER! The Cottagers win their first of the game as Kačaniklić breaks down the left before Duff swings in the set-piece. However, Terry and co are there to clear the danger.
A cross from Ramires finds Eto'o in the centre, but his header isn't strong enough. Eventually the ball is back at the feet of the Cameroon international but his shot is deflected - Hazard fires over from the resulting corner.
Chelsea have just increased the tempo in the last few minutes and are looking slightly more threatening. However, Oscar's free-kick after Hazard was fouled on the edge of the area just about typifies the opening half here as his tame effort deflects off the wall into the arms of Stockdale.
As we reach the half hour mark in proceedings, a quick reminder you can get in touch with your comments, predictions and views on what we've seen so far. Is Mourinho selecting the wrong XI? Would you like to see Torres, Lampard and Mata on the pitch? Tweet me @RyanBailey37 to air your views...
The game has gone into somewhat of a lull. Chelsea are enjoying most of the possession, but Fulham are making it very difficult to break them down. The home side are not showing too much invention.
It's been a pretty subdued first quarter to this game with Darren Bent having the only clear-cut opportunity. Otherwise, we've had very little goalmouth action as Sidwell tries his luck from range - but his effort was always rising.
STAT! Samuel Eto’o could become the ninth African to score a Premier League goal for Chelsea (after Drogba, Kalou, Essien, Babayaro, Geremi, Weah, Ba and Moses).
Gary Cahill sends a diagonal ball towards Eto'o, who cuts inside before unleashing but his effort his deflected wide. Fulham comfortably deal with the resulting corner.
Former Blues Damien Duff and Parker team up to corner Ashley Cole but the left-back manages to win a set-piece before Stockdale flaps at the delivery - luckily for the 'keeper the ball landed at the feet of a team mate.
STAT: Darren Bent has scored in each of his last three appearances against Chelsea before today.
Martin Jol will be pretty pleased at the way his side have started in this game, with Chelsea yet to get going and threaten the Cottagers rearguard.
It's been a positive start by the visitors and you can just sense the tension in the stands after an indifferent run of results by the Blues.
MISS! Bent squanders a guilt-edge chance to open the scoring as he fails to beat Cech after Kasami plays a delightful ball between Cahill and Terry. The 'keeper did well to thwart the striker but he really should have found the net.
It looks like Bent might be afforded plenty of space in the final third this evening, and that could be dangerous for Chelsea if he is given the right service.
Former Blues midfielder Scott Parker breaks up the play in typical fashion and looks to set Darren Bent in-behind but Cech is off his line to clear the danger.
After a tentative start, Chelsea have got their foot on the ball and are passing it around crisply but Fulham are maintaining their shape.
The first proper opening of the match comes Fulham's way as Sidwell heads Duff's cross over the bar. He probably should have at least worked Cech there.
Not surprisingly, Chelsea have started in the ascendancy as both sides settle into the game.
KICK-OFF! Chelsea get us underway, playing from right to left in this first period in their traditional blue kit.
The players have just emerged from the dressing rooms and the pre-match rituals are well-underway. We're just moments away from kick-off...
Chelsea have been dominant in this fixture down the years, winning 41 out of 71 matches. Fulham have claimed the victory seven times, while there have been 23 draws. The Cottagers earned a credible point in a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge last season, but they were soundly beaten 3-0 at Craven Cottage. Fulham's last victory at the Bridge came back in 1979.
MOURINHO: "I think I shouldn't make lots of changes, but we need fresh blood in the team, especially in midfield. I start with Oscar (ahead of Mata) because he is more consistent in attacking areas. Mata's performance against Basel was not convincing and I've left David (Luiz) out tactically." the Chelsea manager told Sky Sports just a few moments ago.
The visitors make three changes as Fernando Amorebieta, Damien Duff and Darren Bent all come in. Philippe Senderos, Bryan Ruiz and Dimitar Berbatov are the players who make way. The Bulgarian striker has failed to shake off an hamstring injury while first-choice 'keeper Maarten Stekelenburg is still absent.
FULHAM: Stockdale; Riether, Hangeland, Amorebieta, Richardson; Duff, Sidwell, Parker, Kacaniklic; Kasami; Bent // Subs: Etheridge, Senderos, Karagounis, Taarabt, Rodallega, Zverotic, Na Bangna
Frank Lampard and Fernando Torres both have to settle for a place on the bench while there's no place in the matchday squad for Juan Mata, with Mourinho hinting during the week that the Spanish midfielder is not part of his plans - this omission will only add yet more fuel to speculation of his departure from the club.
Jose Mourinho makes four changes from the side that lost to Basel in the Champions League as John Terry returns alongside Ramires, Jon Obi Mikel and Andre Schurrle.
CHELSEA: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Ramires, Mikel; Schurrle, Oscar, Hazard; Eto'o // Subs: Schwarzer, Azpilicueta, Essien, Lampard, De Bruyne, Willian, Torres
There's plenty riding on this game for both sides and here is the team news...
Meanwhile, the Cottagers made the perfect start to their season with three points at Sunderland, but have failed to win in their three attempts since and this game is just as important for Martin Jol's charges as it is for their superior opponents.
The hosts suffered a disappointing home defeat to Basel on Wednesday night and will be looking to bounce back in the league against their local rivals this evening.
Jose Mourinho had brilliantly set up his team that night to soak up Munich pressure and pounce on the counter-attack. They have subsequently struggled when they have been required to take the initiative, with Mourinho seemingly uncertain of his best combinations at centre-back, central midfield and through his entire attack.
Three consecutive losses have left Chelsea facing the prospect of a crisis that had seemed unthinkable only a couple of weeks ago when they were within seconds of defeating Bayern Munich for the European Super Cup.
Good evening and welcome to LIVE commentary of today’s final Barclays Premier League clash between West-London rivals Chelsea and Fulham at Stamford Bridge. I’m Ryan Bailey (@RyanBailey37) and I’ll be guiding you through all the action as it happens.
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