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Watch Live: Chelsea vs. Manchester City

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Manchester City’s unbeaten Premier League season heads to Stamford Bridge for match-up with wobbly Chelsea (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

The Blues have claimed just four of 12 points this season, and will look to find their way forward with in-form Ruben Loftus-Cheek on the bench. Alvaro Morata is not in the 18.

Sergio Aguero is rested again for Man City, and Vincent Kompany starts the match on the bench.

LINEUPS

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso, Jorginho, Kante, Kovacic, Willian, Pedro, Hazard. Subs: Caballero, Christensen, Emerson, Fabregas, Loftus-Cheek, Barkley, Giroud.

Manchester City:  Ederson, Walker, Stones, Laporte, Delph, Fernandinho, D. Silva, Mahrez, Sane, Bernardo, Sterling. Subs: Muric, Danilo, Kompany, Gundogan, Otamendi, Jesus, Foden.

Wolves stun Chelsea with amazing comeback win

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  • Loftus-Cheek scores for third-straight PL game
  • Jimenez, Jota scored for Wolves
  • Second defeat in three games for Chelsea
  • First victory in seven for Wolves

Wolverhampton Wanderers beat Chelsea 2-1 at Molinuex on Wednesday, as they stunned Maurizio Sarri‘s with a four-minute spell in the second half.

Chelsea led through Ruben Loftus-Cheek‘s deflected first half goal, but Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota scored in quick succession to deliver a famous victory for Wolves.

With the win they move up to 12th place on 19 points, while Chelsea slip to fourth place on 31 points and are now 10 points behind leaders Man City who they play on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

Chelsea had the majority of the ball but Wolves threatened on the break as N'Golo Kante gave the ball away and a poor touch at a pivotal moment let down Diogo Jota.

But it was Chelsea who took the lead. Loftus-Cheek picked up the ball on the inside left channel, drove towards goal and hit a shot which Conor Coady nodded past his own goalkeeper to put the visitors 1-0 up. The goal was eventually awarded to Loftus-Cheek, as his positive impact continued.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Willian went close with a free kick before the break as Rui Patricio tipped his superb curling effort over the bar as Chelsea dominated the first half.

Wolves had no answer to wave after wave of Chelsea attacks, although they did improve slightly before the break as Raul Jimenez headed just over. Willian should have made it 2-0 in the first half but Ryan Bennett made a wonderful last-ditch tackle.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ] 

In the second half Eden Hazard played in Loftus-Cheek and his perfect cross towards Alvaro Morata saw Willy Boly dive in and somehow deny the Chelsea forward who wanted a penalty kick.

Morata was probably correct as Boly’s challenge from behind was reckless, and the Spaniard then headed a glorious chance over from a cross as Chelsea knocked at the door for a second.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

But it was Wolves who came roaring back, as they hit Chelsea twice in four minutes.

First, Jimenez was played in by youngster Morgan Gibbs-White and he slammed the ball straight at Kepa Arrizabalaga and it somehow went in to make it 1-1.

Moments later Wolves were 2-1 up as Matt Doherty was found on the right and he found Jota at the back post to slot home and spark wild scenes among the home fans in Wolverhampton.

Chelsea went close through Marcos Alonso and Cesc Fabregas late on but the Blues lost in the PL for the second time in the last three games.

Sarri says Chelsea were nervous; Kante praised but must improve

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LONDON — Chelsea got the win against Fulham to keep them among the chasing pack at the top of the Premier League table, but Maurizio Sarri knows his team must improve drastically to become genuine title contenders.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

An early Pedro goal set Chelsea on their way against their neighbors in west London, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek struck late on to seal the 2-0 win after Fulham had fought their way back into the game.

Speaking after the game Sarri acknowledged that Chelsea weren’t at their best and his players were a little nervous after their 3-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur last weekend.

“I think that today it was really very important to get a result,” Sarri said. “We started very well, then after the 1-0 I think the players on the pitch had a very good level of application, attention but without trying to kill the match. We needed to kill the match before. I think today we were a little bit tense. Of course it wasn’t easy, the days after Tottenham for me and the players. We have talked too much about that match. We lost a match after three-and-a-half months. It can happen. Today it was important to react.”

Ahead of their massive clash with Manchester City at Stamford Bridge next Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com) one of the main areas Sarri has talked about is improving his central midfield duo of Jorginho and N'Golo Kante.

The latter won the ball and set up Pedro for Chelsea’s opener and had a superb game overall against Fulham. After Sarri recently criticized Kante as he’s played him out of position in a more attacking central midfield role rather than as a holder, he praised the French star for his display on Sunday. But once again he said he must improve tactically.

“I think he played very well, he defended very well,” Sarri said. “He needs to improve a little more from the tactical point of view but it is natural. In the national team he usually plays with two midfielders. In the last season sometimes with two players, sometimes with three midfielders but in the central position. I think it is normal that he needs to improve.”

Although Sarri admitted Kante was better at getting in and around Jorginho — the man who has replaced him in the lone holding position in Chelsea’s 4-3-3 formation — on Sunday, he reaffirmed his belief that Kante still needs to work hard to make the partnership work.

“Today was better, because when the ball was on the other side of the pitch I remember only one mistake in the first half,” Sarri explained. “With the ball on the other side he has to stay very close to Jorginho. Otherwise for us it is a big problem because Jorginho is able to cut passes to the opponents but he is not really very good in the defensive phase with open spaces. We need Kante very close to him.”

Chelsea remain seven points off leaders Manchester City heading into a busy few weeks, but they’re in the top four and responded with a solid enough win against Fulham on Sunday. It was hardly vintage stuff from Sarri’s men in a game they were expected to win, but Kante’s display was a huge positive.

The fact his side were “tense” and “nervous” does suggest that they are still a little fragile despite losing just once so far this season in all competitions. That doesn’t exactly send out a positive message ahead of their biggest test of the season when Man City roll into town next week.

Three things we learned: Chelsea v. Fulham

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LONDON — Chelsea beat Fulham 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, as Claudio Ranieri‘s return to his former club ended in a defeat.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Chelsea weren’t at their best but goals in each half from Pedro and Ruben Loftus-Cheek did the damage, as Fulham had their moments but failed to take the few chances which came their way.

Here’s what we learned from Stamford Bridge as Chelsea remain in the top four but are still seven points off leaders Manchester City.


SUBDUED CHELSEA STAY IN TOUCH

Chelsea weren’t at their best on Sunday, but after a week where their progress under Maurizio Sarri was questioned heavily they proved they can grind out wins. The defeat to Tottenham suggested that Chelsea were far from genuine title contenders this season, and Sarri has admitted as much all season long. Yet they remain in the chasing pack behind Man City and Liverpool and finishing in the top four this season would represent a big success. Chelsea started brightly on a Sunday morning at a largely sun-drenched Stamford Bridge but whether it was doubts creeping in about their poor display at Tottenham or the fact they’ve played three games in seven days, Sarri’s men were a little subdued throughout. The likes of Marcos Alonso, Olivier Giroud and Jorginho were poor, while Alvaro Morata missed a glorious chance after jumping off the bench.

They got the job done rather easily despite some pressure from Fulham in the second half and moments of magic from N'Golo Kante and Eden Hazard were enough to get them over the line. But a few defensive lapses could have allowed a more clinical side than Fulham to score and there are still plenty of ways the Blues can improve. All in all, a pretty routine day at the office for Chelsea who remain among the PL frontrunners but there are enough cracks appearing to suggest their showdown with Manchester City next Saturday will be a lot tougher than many believed it would be a few weeks ago.


UNIQUE KANTE SILENCES DOUBTERS

After Chelsea’s defeat at Tottenham last weekend, plenty of the talk surrounding their poor performance was centered on how their central midfield tandem of Jorginho and N’Golo Kante just wasn’t working out. Kante is being played in a new role by Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri who said that he needs to improve many aspects of his game. While Jorginho, the man Sarri brought with him from Napoli in the summer for $72 million, is no doubt the fulcrum of Chelsea’s entire team and is a guaranteed starter in Kante’s old role. Instead of playing Kante alongside Jorginho in a holding role, Sarri plays him just ahead of Chelsea’s true holder and it is probably the best place for the man who won the World Cup with France this summer. We are talking about a player who won the Premier League in two of the past three seasons, was the PFA Player of the Year in 2016-17 and is perhaps the most lauded defensive midfielder in recent history. The fact he’s been forced to change his role proves

Chelsea’s first goal summed up all that is exceptional with the former Leicester City midfielder. He anticipated where the pass was going, snuck in to win the tackle and then drove forward before setting up Pedro to score. That is exactly why Sarri is using Kante in this position. He is using Kante as the trigger for the entire team to press higher up the pitch and force the issue. It may take some time for Kante to impact games in his new role as he did in his old role, but as long as Sarri is in charge at Chelsea he will not return to a holding role. With his display against Fulham, Kante silenced those who seem to be doubting his versatility.


FULHAM’S DEFENSIVE ISSUES IMPROVING

Fulham are the only team in England’s four professional leagues to not keep a clean sheet this season. And that right there is why they sit bottom of the Premier League table. But under Claudio Ranieri things are already improving if you analyze their narrow 3-2 win against Southampton last to this narrow defeat at Chelsea. For much of his return to Stamford Bridge Ranieri barked out orders to his team and urged them to stay in their shape and not be too eager to engage Chelsea’s players when they had the ball. It worked, to a degree, but it is clear the Italian tactician still has plenty of work to do to drill his team into the strong defensive unit he hopes they can become. Wherever he has gone he’s stuck to his solid 4-4-2 or 4-5-1 system and prides himself on being hard to beat. It will be hard for him to mold Fulham into that kind of team.

Fulham’s sloppy passing when they did win the ball back will concern him, especially in the first half, but their play with the ball and the attacks they launched at Chelsea suggest they will create chances against any team in the league. Calum Chambers twice forced Kepa into fine stops in the second half after Ranieri tweaked his personnel and tactics with Aboubakar Kamara and Floyd Ayite providing more power and pace down the flanks after coming on at half time. This will take time for Ranieri to turn around, as he told Pro Soccer Talk, but a few weeks into the job you can see Fulham are more organized defensively and have a gameplan to launch counters. Still, the 35 goals they’ve conceded in their first 14 games of this season is a club-record high for a top-flight season and the Cottagers improving defensively is the main reason Ranieri was brought in. The result at Chelsea won’t please him but the performance will give him hope.

Early lead enough as Chelsea blanks Fulham

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  • Pedro scores in 4th minute
  • Arrizabalaga makes 3 saves
  • Loftus-Cheek puts it to bed

Chelsea outlasted a game Fulham thanks to an early goal from Pedro and late insurance from Ruben Loftus-Cheek, claiming London Derby honors with a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

The Blues go third for the moment, a point better than Chelsea and three ahead of Arsenal before the North London Derby (Watch live at 9:05 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Fulham sits bottom of the table with eight points, two points back of 17th.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Fulham’s Cyrus Christie dribbled 40 yards for a shot on Kepa Arrizabalaga before the match was a half-minute old.

Pedro danced around weak defending to make it 1-0 three minutes later, with N'Golo Kante stealing a sloppy Fulham touch and slipping the Spaniard into Sergio Rico‘s office for a cutback and finish.

Calum Chambers hit a 20-yard shot at Arrizabalaga at the quarter-hour mark.

At the other end, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard put Olivier Giroud into the path of Rico as the Fulham goalkeeper managed another stop.

Azpilicueta then cued up Giroud for a chance Rico did well to stop in the 43rd minute.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Fulham’s second half challenge started well, with Antonio Rudiger forced to stop a bid to meet Mitrovic followed by an Arrizabalaga save on Chambers off the ensuing corner.

Chelsea sub Alvaro Morata missed an in-tight bid to cut an Eden Hazard rebound on goal in the 73rd.

It was another sub who made it 2-0, as Loftus-Cheek left no doubt when presented with a Hazard square ball in the right of the box.