Chelsea’s goalless draw with west London rivals Fulham is the focus of our latest Scout Notes piece.
The numbers you see in this article are taken from our Premium Members Area, where you can access Opta player and team data for every single Premier League fixture.
Kepa Arrizabalaga’s (£4.6m) fine Fantasy Premier League (FPL) form continued at Stamford Bridge on Friday, with another double-digit haul courtesy of a clean sheet, four saves and maximum bonus.
The Spaniard has now produced 29 points in the last three Gameweeks and 44 in seven appearances since football resumed after the World Cup. For context, that’s 11 more than next best Nick Pope (£5.5m) and 24 more than Ederson (£5.4m).
Under Graham Potter, Kepa is accumulating bonus at a faster rate than any other goalkeeper, thanks to his ability to make lots of saves whilst often racking up 30+ attempted passes due to Chelsea’s approach to playing out from the back. Paired with his passing accuracy, plus the fact the Blues don’t score many goals, and it’s easy to understand why he is doing so well.
Indeed, he took his bonus tally to 13 for the season against Fulham, more than any other ‘keeper despite not making his first start until Gameweek 9.
As for Chelsea, it’s now three clean sheets in a row, a run that coincided with Benoit Badiashile’s (£5.0m) introduction to the starting XI.
JAMES SUBBED ON 59 MINS
Reece James (£5.7m) made his return from injury against Fulham, lining up at right-back in Potter’s 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 formation.
The England international showed glimpses of his attacking potential and was able to push forward despite playing in a four, with £107m deadline day buy Enzo Fernandez (£5.0m) screening the backline. The Argentine looked sharp and certainly put himself about, winning more tackles (six) than any other player on the pitch.
However, James was cruelly subbed off on 59 minutes, just 30 or so seconds away from banking a clean sheet, as Potter looks to manage his workload. As a result, he has returned just one point in four of his last five appearances.
Elsewhere, the game also marked the return of fellow full-back Ben Chilwell (£5.8m) and Raheem Sterling (£9.7m) from injury, both of whom appeared from the bench in the second half.
Above: Reece James’ touch heatmap v Fulham
WHY MUDRYK WENT OFF AT HALF-TIME
January arrival Mykhailo Mudryk (£7.0m) made his first start after an impressive cameo at Anfield last time out. However, the winger failed to impress and was hauled off at half-time.
Potter has since confirmed Mudryk had been suffering from a cold, which goes some way to explaining why he was so poor, as he registered fewer touches than Bernd Leno (£4.5m) in the first half.
“He’s had a heavy cold all week. We thought 60 would be his maximum but he felt heavy-legged at half time. We’re still building him up in terms of his minutes because of the break he has had in his season so we thought 45 was about right for him.” – Graham Potter on Mykhailo Mudryk
Despite introducing Noni Madueke (£5.5m), Sterling and David Datro Fofana (£5.0m) from the bench, Chelsea failed to score and managed just two shots on target all game. That means they have found the net just seven times in their past 12 league games.
Kai Havertz (£7.8m) twice fired wide in the first half and hit the post when he lifted it over Leno, but the return of Joao Felix (£7.5m) can’t come soon enough, who served the final match of his suspension against Fulham.
“I feel we didn’t do enough in terms of our attacking play to create more, which is something we need to do. I think we saw a team against us who defend very well, are very organised and that bit of connection, that bit of fluidity, that bit of understanding that you need, we probably lacked a little bit which is understandable when you consider we have players coming back from injury and new players in the team. That’s just where we’re at, at the moment.” – Graham Potter
It’s four goals conceded from seven league games since the World Cup for Fulham, a run that has seen them keep three clean sheets, despite facing Chelsea twice, Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City.
From Gameweek 17 onwards, their rate of 68.6 minutes per xGC is 10th best in the division, a real improvement from their pre-World Cup showings.
Their attack, however, has suffered as a consequence. After today’s blank, they have now failed to score in each of their past three games against Chelsea, Spurs and Newcastle, although Marco Silva doesn’t sound too concerned, putting it down to their tough run of fixtures.
“It’s not a concern. We’re an offensive team but we have to understand the teams we played against – twice against Chelsea, probably the best defence in the league in Newcastle, against Tottenham, whose defensive organisation is really strong. I’m not really worried about the situation. We’ll keep providing chances for our players and we will score.” – Marco Silva on Fulham’s recent lack of goals