Chelsea are just 2/13 in the match betting to beat Fulham, but it’s not so long ago that the Cottagers had a habit of frustrating the Blues at Stamford Bridge.

Recent showings away to the Premier League’s premium attacking sides offer encouragement that the visitors can nullify them once again.

The Craven Cottage club held their rivals to five successive stalemates between February 2011 and November 2012 – three 0-0s and two 1-1s – punching above their west London derby weight during a spell when the boys from the Bridge finished second in the top tier and won the Champions League.

Relegated in the 2013/14 campaign, this is Fulham’s first clash with Chelsea since and they’re a massive 16/1 to win, with even the draw priced up a remote 7/1. It’s hard to see either result emerging in too many pre-match predictions.

Yet, when the market is so lopsided there tends to be some juicy handicap odds about the underdogs and this showdown is no exception, with Fulham +2 goals trading at 6/4 in the betting.

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Chelsea vs Fulham predictions

Can Claudio Ranieri begin his managerial reign at Fulham with a win against the Blues?

What about these signs of Fulham defensive encouragement?

Of course, that means trusting the worst defence in the division to channel their Aaron Hughes and Brede Hangeland-helmed forebears and stop the Blues from running riot.

While the Cottagers’ rearguard showed little sign of shoring up in the 3-2 win over Southampton that marked Claudio Ranieri’s first match in charge last time out, things have been more promising in recent outings away from the Grade-2 listed river-side ranch.

Yes, they found a way to lose 1-0 to Huddersfield two away days back, but that demoralising defeat was sandwiched between credible 2-0 defeats at the Etihad and Anfield, where many had been tipping them for a thumping.

City had hammered Burnley 5-0 in their previous home game and put six past the Saints in the next, while Liverpool had hit Crvena Zvezda and Cardiff for four each in their two backyard outings that preceded Fulham’s visit.

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Chelsea vs Fulham predictions

Fulham’s defensive form may be on the up, but they struggled against the ‘big six’ teams

Chelsea stuttering on the crest of the Christmas fixture wave

Yes the first of those two credible away results was an EFL Cup outing against a changed City, but encouragement must be taken where it can when most Chelsea vs Fulham predictions will point to a home stroll. Further hope comes from the hosts’ last couple of matches.

Everton choked the life out Maurizio Sarri’s side at Stamford Bridge in the Blues’ last home game, putting constant pressure on playmaker Jorginho to secure a 0-0 draw, while Tottenham took advantage of some distinctly lacklustre defending to beat them 3-1 at Wembley in their last league outing.

Both results are rallying calls to Cottagers +2 handicap bettors, with the Toffees, like West Ham earlier this term, proving snuffing out Sarri-ball is possible and Spurs showing that the hosts’ defence is a liability at times. Aleksandar Mitrovic, trading at odds of 10/1 to score first, will be licking his lips.

In the first of nine December fixtures for Chelsea, Fulham may also benefit from the opposition with eyes at least partially on the midweek journey to Wolverhampton, not to mention Manchester City the following Saturday.

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