Early at Craven Cottage, we see what the team selection hinted. Chelsea has reverted to their 4-3-3, with its only twist being at the base of midfield. That's where Michael Essien will play in what is normally Mikel John Obi's spot. Ramires will play on the right side of Chelsea's offset central midfield.
Through the first two minutes, Chelsea dominated possession, though good pressure from Fulham kept Chelsea from being comfortable on the ball. As a result, neither team has asked a serious question of the other team's defense.
Since, Fulham has twice tried to attack down their left side - once with left back Carlos Salcido carrying the ball, the other attempt by Clint Dempsey. Perhaps it's those players that have influenced Mark Hughes's early tactics. Perhaps it's just a small sample. Regardless, it would be curious of Fulham felt more comfortable trying to break through Branislav Ivanovic than Ashley Cole.
Now in the sixth minute, Fulham's first meaningful attack comes down the right, with Nicolas Anelka losing the ball in midfield, creating a counter attack chance. Cole was caught up the pitch, opening up Chelsea's left, allowing Damien Duff to get deep before crossing through the six. David Luiz got between Andrew Johnson and goal, deflecting a chance above the bar for a corner.
Thus the match stays scoreless, now in the eighth minute: Fulham 0, Chelsea 0.