Rhys asks if the Whites can finally kick their Blues this Thursday as an out-of-sorts Chelsea make the trip across West London.
By the time Fulham step onto the Craven Cottage turf ahead of their West London derby against Chelsea on Thursday night – it will have been 6,140 days since they last tasted victory in the calendar-marked fixture.
Some 16 years, nine months and four days will have passed since Luis Boa Morte’s shin provided the oldest professional football club in London a victory over a side who were only formed 26 years later in 1905 because Fulham rejected the chance to make Stamford Bridge their home.
Although Chelsea’s achievements have gone on to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the juggernauts of Europe – our failure to better them even once for decades at a time is enough to conjure concern.
Long time coming
The ongoing drought includes 22 fixtures, of which 14 have been defeats, as well as the current streak of seven losses incorporating 15 goals conceded and just two scored.
Despite the disarray that encompassed our past two Premier League spells, both of which lasted a solemn single season, none of those four defeats have been by more than a margin of two goals – and those sides were a pale imitation of Marco Silva’s jubilant band.
Fulham sit seventh in the table with eight wins and four draws from our opening 18 fixtures having gone put together three league wins in a row since the World Cup break.
The big win
Although our boys won’t need any extra motivation with the chance to go six points ahead of 10th placed Chelsea in the table – a look back at the 2006 contest might provide additional stimulus.
Fulham went into the 2006 contest on the back of four damaging league defeats in which Chris Coleman’s defence shipped 14 goals to sit 16th in the table to prompt concerned looks over shoulders.
Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, on the other hand, had won three fixtures in a row and lost only twice all season while cruising towards the second of back-to-back titles.
A bad-tempered contest, which lacked quality in the final third, became Fulham’s to lose after Paulo Ferreira’s attempted clearance beat Petr Cech via the shinpad of Boa Morte after 17 minutes.
Didier Drogba’s disallowed goal for handball and Frank Lampard’s blaze over the crossbar from inside the box proceeded Mark Crossley’s reaction save to keep out John Terry’s header as Chelsea’s famous trinity came up short.
The most highly-anticipated of final whistles was followed by a sincere embrace between the two managers as well as some unsavoury scenes on the pitch from euphoric onrushing supporters – as well as a reset on a 27-year winless run for the hosts.
Is the time right?
Even the most pessimistic of Fulham fan would’ve imagined a repeat of that miserable timeline – but 60% of it has since passed.
To add context, Fulham have beaten Manchester United twice since that 2006 result while securing three wins over Arsenal and as many as five over Liverpool.
However, despite Chelsea winning just one of their last eight Premier League fixtures and pressure building on Graham Potter – the elephant in the room is the absence of the eagle.
Aleksandar Mitrovic will miss the long-awaited fixture having picked up a fifth yellow card of the season in the game before the accumulations get wiped.
The onus will be on the undisturbed Marco Silva to find a way past the Blues without his talismanic forward and top-scorer – but his side is certainly not short of quality.
The challenge remains an almighty one considering the weight of recent history – but this blossoming Fulham team have already dared us to dream.