Chelsea edged out Fulham with a 1-0 win at Craven Cottage, but they were forced to work hard by the hosts, who played the entire second half with just ten men.
The two teams fought fiercely in the first half, with Ivan Cavaleiro having the best chance, missing kicks and twisting a wide shot when it was not scored eight yards from goal.
Half-time came to life in the final minutes, however, when Antonee Robinson was sent off for a dangerous and nagging challenge on Cesar Azpilicueta, leaving Whites embarrassed for the second half.
Chelsea dominated the second half against Fulham’s ten men, with substitute Tammy Abraham missing a great opportunity to break the deadlock minutes after entering the pitch. Frank Lampard’s men finally made their breakthrough in the 78th minute, when Alphonse Areola beat Ben Chilwell’s cross, and Mason Mount pierced the winning goal to relieve the pressure on his boss under fire.
Let’s take a look at the player ratings for the strained 90 minutes at Craven Cottage.
Alphonse Areola (GK) – 5/10 – Not seriously tested in the first half, but handled all minor threats comfortably. Left the match with a huge flap on Chilwell’s cross, and Mount punished the shooter.
Ola Aina (CB) – 7/10 – Extremely versatile player. Sitting in the center back, helped the right back and moved to the left when his manager called him. Love a run ahead of that full-back role.
Joachim Andersen (CB) – 7/10 – I enjoyed a nice fight with Giroud, constantly struggling and throwing out the experienced Frenchman. Led the defense, especially in the tough times when Chelsea put the pressure on. Will be gutted to lose this one.
Tosin Adarabioyo (CB) – 7/10 – Grow in confidence in this Fulham team. Showed his comfort on the ball, while listening and learning from Andersen by his side. Repelled whatever came to him.
Kenny Tete (RWB) – 7/10 – An energetic and determined display. Picked Cavaleiro for what should have been the game’s first goal. Pulisic struck off wide with his fierce defense.
Bobby Reid (CM) – 6/10 – Moved to a wider position in the second half as Parker shuffled his pack. Has struggled to affect play in the future, so offered strength and reliability to teammates.
Harrison Reed (CM) – 8/10 – Squeezed, shoved and harassed in the center of the park, leaving Jorginho little time to set any tempo. Constantly evolving in this team.
André Anguissa (CM) – 7/10 – A driving force in midfield, carrying the ball with speed and power. Excellent without the ball at his feet too, clinging to his task and giving Chelsea’s men little joy.
Antonee Robinson (LWB) – 5/10 – An excellent first half was marred by his reckless challenge, which saw him hand in his marching orders. Useless and expensive.
Ivan Cavaleiro (ST) – 5/10 – He missed a good goalkeeper in the 40th minute, slashing so badly that the ball hit his standing foot rather than the swinger. It is why Fulham desperately needs a striker.
Ademola Lookman (ST) – 6/10 – Produced a good bonding game to bring teammates into that left side. Put the large graft when there are only ten men left.
Josh Onomah (CM) – 6/10
Joe Bryan (LB) – 6/10
Aboubakar Kamara (ST) – 5/10
Édouard Mendy (GK) – 6/10 – Had very little to do in the first half as Fulham failed to test the Frenchman. He was even less tested in the second, with the hosts digging with ten men.
Cesar Azpilicueta (RB) – 7/10 – Responsible for following Pacy Robinson on the left flank. Used his experience and know-how wisely. Survived the savage challenge of the American to fight another day.
Thiago Silva (CB) – 7/10 – Taken too high on the pitch by Fulham’s movement on several occasions, and lacked the legs to get back into position. Assisted kickstart attacks and pushed the field with the ball.
Antonio Rudiger (CB) – 6/10 – Few stray passes that plagued his game and could have been punished another day. I had little defense to do in the second half.
Ben Chilwell (LB) – 8/10 – Much of Chelsea’s offensive threat, overlapping and seeking to cross at every opportunity. Provided the ball that led to the winner of Mount. Big player for the Blues.
Mateo Kovacic (CM) – 6/10 – Offered little in the last two-thirds of the field, and quality was also lacking in the middle. Advance a little more in the second half.
Jorginho (CM) – 7/10 – Didn’t have the time he needed to play the game in the first half, but thrived when Fulham was reduced to ten men. Played much more vertically and added some required urgency to the performance. Subbed as Lampard went for the win.
Mason frame (CM) – 8/10 – Seemed to float and cause trouble. Gained influence in the second half, twisting and turning in the box to almost help Giroud. Saved Lampard’s skin with his breakthrough finish – a huge goal for the Blues.
Hakim Ziyech (RW) – 6/10 – Stitched Areola’s palms with a nice walk from the edge of the box. Created panic with his evil crosses. Not much else.
Olivier Giroud (ST) – 5/10 – Entrusted to lead the line, but not one of his best performances. Has struggled to regain his usual scoring positions in the penalty area.
Christian Pulisic (LW) – 5/10 – Another display below par for the winger. Could not enter dangerous areas and his teammates were struggling to find him. Another white.
Tammy Abraham (ST) – 6/10
Callum Hudson-Odoi (RW) – 7/10
Timo Werner (ST) – 5/10