The post-Thomas Tuchel era at Chelsea begins with a challenging Premier League West London derby on Saturday, as Fulham welcome their capital counterparts to Craven Cottage.
The Blues enter the contest on the back of a 1-0 loss to Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League, while the hosts went down 2-1 to Tottenham Hotspur last weekend.
Few defences have been able to quell the goalscoring juggernaut that is Aleksandar Mitrovic, but the Serbian’s stunning effort against Tottenham was in vain last weekend as Fulham lost 2-1 to their London rivals.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Harry Kane had made the net ripple for the Lilywhites before Mitrovic found the top corner with aplomb, but away days continued to bedevil the Cottagers, who have still proven to be a tough nut to crack so far this term.
A tally of eight points from their opening six fixtures is enough to see Fulham occupy a top-half place in the table – 10th more specifically – and their only two league defeats this season have come by just the one goal against Arsenal and Tottenham.
While the Cottagers have struggled to stamp their authority on rival turf, home is where the heart is for Silva and co, as they could win three Premier League games in a row at Craven Cottage for the first time in a decade with victory over an unstable Chelsea.
The Mitrovic-inspired hosts have also struck at least two goals in each of their three home games this season – albeit while failing to keep a clean sheet – but the trusty new manager bounce could come into play for those in blue.
Thomas Tuchel remained loyal to Chelsea even when their existence was being questioned at one stage, but shades of Roman Abramovich were unearthed when Todd Boehly gave the green light to the German’s departure on Wednesday morning.
Tuchel had been given free rein to mould the squad as he pleased following the exit of sporting director Marina Granovskaia, but a £250m summer outlay could not save Chelsea from an underwhelming start to the season, which reached a low ebb on Tuesday.
Mislav Orsic struck the winner for Dinamo Zagreb in what proved to be Tuchel’s 100th and final game in charge of Chelsea, who are reportedly on the brink of appointing Brighton & Hove Albion’s Graham Potter to take the poisoned chalice.
While Chelsea followed a pattern of losing one and then winning one in Tuchel’s final days, the defeat to Dinamo Zagreb marked a third straight away loss for the West London club in all tournaments, and their exhaustive defensive spending has only led to a five-game run without a Premier League clean sheet.
Potter’s arrival is expected to be confirmed before the Craven Cottage bout kicks off, but interim staff may still be tasked with taking charge of the West London derby, as sixth-placed Chelsea aim to kick off yet another new era with an eighth-straight win against Fulham.