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The Italian did not reveal beforehand whether Kepa or Caballero would start against Fulham, but his decision to go with the former paid off as Chelsea secured their second Premier League triumph on the bounce for the first time since they beat Watford and Crystal Palace in successive games over the festive period.

The Chilean global left the pitch with the suspected knee problem after 52 minutes and he was swiftly replaced by young Portuguese fullback Diogo Dalot.

Higuain could make his Europa League debut on Thursday night when Chelsea host Dynamo Kiev for the first leg of the round of 16 stage.

"So, better two teams for four places than three for one place".

Chelsea were indebted to Kepa for a series of superb saves that preserved their lead after the break, lifting the sixth-placed Blues within two points of fourth-placed Manchester United, with a game in hand.

But Kepa nearly proved the decision to be a mistake when he failed to deal with a routine cross on 18 minutes and, had Fulham forward Ryan Babel been more alert, the Netherlands global would surely have put his side 1-0 ahead.

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No energy. "You know I'm totally off script right now, and this, you know, is how I got elected, by being off script", he said. Also, the president concluded a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi without reaching a denuclearisation deal.

Under Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, managers have been sacked for much less at Chelsea and failure to guide the team to Europe's top tier could very seal the fate for Sarri. "He understood and reacted really very well". You saw the way we played against Tottenham and Manchester City [in the past week]? Sarri has taken a lot of heat over the last few months, but he showed in this match that he has everything under control. A finish from close range opened the scoring for Chelsea.

"I spoke with him during the week, he understood", Sarri added.

Chelsea took its fans to hell and back throughout February.

Yet barely six minutes had later Craven Cottage erupted when Calum Chambers drifted unmarked to the back post and scored from a Ryan Babel cross following a corner kick.

Exploiting the space left by Fulham's creaky defence, Hazard and Willian both tested Rico with low drives soon after the restart.Even with the perennially inconsistent David Luiz left on the bench, there were still moments of uncertainty from Chelsea at back.

"I can kill him, but I think that [bringing him back] was right".


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