Fulham vs Chelsea predictions: Mitrovic could give Potter the Blues
Act of madness or decisive show of winning mentality?
Wherever you stand on Thomas Tuchel’s departure from Stamford Bridge, it is hard to escape the feeling that Chelsea chairman Todd Boehly has taken a risk.
Recent results must be put into the context of what the club has been through.
The sanctions placed on former owner Roman Abramovich threw the club's very future into doubt and it has been a summer of upheaval since Boehly and Co took control.
If ever a manager had valid reason to blame external factors for on-field performances, it was Tuchel. And the situation is far from disastrous.
Chelsea are three points off the Premier League's top four, their Champions League setback is recoverable and a new-look squad will surely improve as the new signings settle.
Graham Potter should also prove an excellent replacement for Tuchel.
But he would do well to match the German's record of winning the Champions League, Super Cup and Club World Cup in just 20 months at the Bridge — not to mention reaching two FA Cup finals and a Carabao Cup final, of which two were lost on penalties to Liverpool.
Along the road at Fulham, there has been notably less drama.
But while the Cottagers have not splashed a fortune on signings and brought in a shiny new manager, Marco Silva and his team have been quietly impressive upon their return to the top flight.
They will now be looking to stir things up against their London rivals by handing Potter a difficult start to life in the Chelsea dugout.
Silva is again set to be without wingers Manor Solomon and Harry Wilson (both knee) but deadline day signings Dan James and Willian will be pushing to start in attack, with the latter hoping to feature against his former club.
Left-back Antonee Robinson limped off against Tottenham last weekend but Layvin Kurzawa should slot straight in after signing on loan from Paris Saint-Germain.
With Potter's appointment done and dusted, the former Brighton boss will be in charge of team affairs for the clash at Craven Cottage.
Chelsea's injury issues have largely cleared up, bar the absence of midfielder N’Golo Kante — who is expected to be out for another month — and a minor concern over goalkeeper Edouard Mendy’s fitness.
Fulham were fortunate not to lose by a bigger margin than 2-1 at Spurs but there has been a marked difference in their home and away performances.
Striker Aleksandar Mitrovic is the second-highest scorer in the Premier League this season, registering six times.
Silva’s side have picked up only one point on the road — albeit they have had tricky trips to Wolves, Arsenal and Spurs — but at the Cottage they have held Liverpool to a 2-2 draw and inflicted the only defeats of the season on fast-starting Brentford and Brighton.
There is a similar home vs away split in recent results for Chelsea.
The Blues are unbeaten in their three home games this season, winning two, but have lost their last three on the road in all competitions.
And those defeats did not come against the big guns, with Leeds, Southampton and Dinamo Zagreb all seeing off a side who have been frustratingly inconsistent.
However, they have an excellent record in this derby, beating Fulham in each of the last seven meetings and not losing to them in any of the last 21 fixtures.
It will be interesting to see how Chelsea handle the transition between Tuchel’s defensive, pragmatic style and Potter’s more attacking but equally structured system.
Both men require their players to fully understand and implement complex plans and passing patterns so it could take some time before Chelsea become Potter’s team — and for now that could extend their run of indifferent form.
The visitors will no doubt experience a degree of new manager bounce but they have looked so vulnerable on the road in recent games that they are hard to trust.
They also visit a side who have impressed upon their return to the top tier, with Fulham's only defeats in six league games coming away from home at in-form Arsenal and Tottenham by the margin of a single goal.
Mitrovic, 27, has embodied both the work-rate and quality on show at Craven Cottage and the red-hot frontman can help Fulham earn a rare point against their neighbours.