A relatively quiet January transfer window and a serene build-up to the second instalment of the SW6 derby indicates just how good a season Fulham are having. Remarkably, the Whites make the short trip to Stamford Bridge in with a chance of doing the double over our near neighbours and recording a first win in the blue half of SW6 since 1979. Marco Silva’s men might have lost their last two games in the league – and survived a shock at the hands of a spirited Sunderland side in the FA Cup – but consistency of selection and the quality of performances mean that there isn’t dissatisfaction in the squad or the wider fanbase. Fulham haven’t played badly and the head coach’s options have been supplemented with a couple of shrewd signings in positions where he wanted to strengthen.

How the last derby panned out at Craven Cottage should also give Fulham heart. On that evening, the Whites were adventurous without being reckless. They were rewarded for their ambition with an opening goal, didn’t panic when the visitors scored a slightly fortuitous equaliser shortly after half time and took advantage of Joao Felix’s moment of madness to secure a famous victory through Carlos Vinicius. This Chelsea side is far from all-conquering beast like so many of its predecessors and, although Graham Potter remains one of the country’s most progressive and promising coaches, he now has to handle a squad bursting at the seams after another extraordinary burst of acquisitions in the transfer market.

The Blues made eight signings last month, although one – Malo Gusto – will stay at Lyon until the end of this season. Highly rated winger Mykhailo Mudryk, reportedly snatched from under the noses of Arsenal, looked like being the marquee signing until World Cup winner Enzo Fernandez came in late on deadline day. Potter is still awaiting confirmation that the Argentinian midfielder will be able to feature in the derby and has some selection dilemmas as the Stamford Bridge injury list remains extensive. Chelsea are definitely going to be without Wesley Fofana, Denis Zakaria, Christian Pulisic, Mateo Kovacic, N’Golo Kante and Armando Broja as well as Felix. During his pre-match press conference, the manager confirmed that Reece James, Raheem Sterling, Ben Chilwell and a certain Ruben Loftus-Cheek will be available for selection, although none will be likely to last ninety minutes.

In previous years, the Fulham game plan in fixtures of this magnitude would have involved trying to contain the opposition. That won’t be the case tonight. That’s not primarily because of Chelsea’s undoubted frailty but the change in approach introduced by Silva two summers ago. The Whites are now much more ambitious in their outlook – and that sense of adventure has been rewarded with results. They have already recorded four away wins this season. Another one would equal their Premier League record, achieved under Chris Coleman in 2003/04. Fulham might register a fourth London derby triumph in a season, which would also be a top-flight club record, and they can draw on the way they comfortably defeated the Blues at Craven Cottage only a few weeks ago to boost their belief.

Perhaps the biggest feather in Fulham’s cap heading into tonight’s game is that first SW6 derby win for seventeen years was won without Aleksandar Mitrovic. The Serbian, looking much sharper than he did in the immediate aftermath of the World Cup, has served his suspension and, just as importantly, had a significant rest post-Newcastle – after playing less than half an hour in the FA Cup against Sunderland last weekend. He has scored in each of Fulham’s London derbies this term and the Whites are undoubtedly an entirely different proposition with their talismanic number nine in the team. Mitrovic will fancy his chances of adding to his eleven goal tally this evening – especially as Fulham have made a virtue of playing to his strengths under Silva. The Cottagers have scored eleven goals from crosses into the box in the top flight this season, whilst Chelsea have conceded some 21 goals in such fashion. That hints at an area of considerable promise for Silva’s side.

The Whites will need to be resilient as well as resourceful this evening, but their confidence is well-placed. As Bernd Leno said earlier this week, Silva has succeeded in turning Fulham into a side that are no longer a soft touch at this level and another scalp is certainly not out of the question.

MY FULHAM XI (4-2-3-1): Leno; Tete, A. Robinson, Diop, Ream; Palhinha, Reed; Decordova-Reid, Willian, Pereira; Mitrovic. Subs: Rodak, Cedric, Adarabioyo, Lukic, Cairney, Wilson, Solomon, James, Harris, Vinicius.