Fulham v Chelsea: European football not on players’ minds, says Fulham captain Tom Cairney

Fulham forward Aleksandar Mitrovic
Fulham have lost all three league games this season in which Aleksandar Mitrovic hasn’t played

Fulham are not “thinking about European football at all” despite being seventh in the Premier League, captain Tom Cairney said before facing Chelsea.

Marco Silva’s side are three places and three points above Chelsea.

“We’re above them in the table right now, but it doesn’t mean a lot,” Cairney told Radio 5 Live Breakfast.

“They’ve got a lot of strength in depth. They can turn it on at any point. It’s going to be a tough, tough match at the Cottage.”

Fulham won promotion from the Championship to the Premier League last season and have adapted well to the higher level.

They will move above Liverpool into sixth if they avoid defeat on Thursday, although the Reds will have two games in hand.

Depending on who wins the FA Cup and the League Cup, finishing seventh could be enough to take Fulham into Europe, something they have not experienced since 2011.

But Cairney said it was too early to start thinking about that.

“That’s not in our mind at all,” added the midfielder.

“We’re not thinking about European football, at all. It’s not in our mindset, the aim for any newly-promoted side is to stay in the Premier League.”

TEAM NEWS

Fulham will be without top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic, who is banned after receiving his fifth yellow card of the season earlier this month.

Shane Duffy remains out with illness, while Neeskens Kebano is a long-term absentee with an Achilles injury.

Chelsea’s long injury list includes Christian Pulisic, who faces two months out with a knee problem, and Raheem Sterling, who has a hamstring injury.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has recovered from a back issue.

The Blues await confirmation on whether Joao Felix, who has joined on loan from Atletico Madrid, signed in time to be eligible for this game.

Graham Potter has already suffered defeat against Fulham in this season's Premier League, losing 2-1 at Craven Cottage on 30 August in his penultimate game in charge of Brighton

MATCH FACTS

Head to head

  • Chelsea have won seven straight league meetings with Fulham.
  • Fulham have won just seven of the 74 league meetings, the lowest win rate in a fixture to have been played at least 50 times in English football league history.
  • The Cottagers have won just one of their 30 Premier League matches against Chelsea, a 1-0 victory in March 2006.
  • The Blues have shipped just six goals in their last 15 Premier League games against Fulham, and have not conceded more than once in any of those fixtures.

Fulham

  • Fulham are aiming to win four consecutive top-flight games for the first time since 1966, when they had a run of five.
  • They have taken nine points from their last four league matches – only three Premier League sides have earned more in that period.
  • Marco Silva’s side have scored in 16 different Premier League matches this campaign, at joint-league high alongside Arsenal, Manchester City and Spurs.
  • Fulham are looking to win consecutive Premier League London derbies for the first time since April 2013, when they won three in a row.

Chelsea

  • Chelsea could go winless in six successive away games in all competitions for the first time since September to November 2015 under Jose Mourinho, who was sacked the following month.
  • Graham Potter’s side have scored just five goals in their last eight league matches, failing to score in half of those.
  • Chelsea are winless in all seven Premier League fixtures this season against teams above them in the table (D3, L4).
  • But the Blues have won nine of their last 11 away London derbies in the Premier League.

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Predict Chelsea’s starting XI for their next fixture – remember you can change the formation!

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