In the minds of the optimists who occupy the boardroom at Stamford Bridge, there will come a point when Chelsea will be able to look back on the night they lost to Fulham for the first time in 17 years and laugh about the time spent on it. New signing from Atletico Madrid He took it too far in his attempts to prove he could handle the ups and downs of English football.
However, the problem with this theory, which includes rewarding the third best club in west London for letting Graham Potter steer them through their most awkward transitions, is that it runs counter to current reality. There is confidence in the process and then there is spectacle Chelsea Lying in tenth place.
This, even if provisions have to be made for injuries, is heading towards the crisis area. In the end Chelsea were six points behind Fulham And while there were encouraging glimmers of Joao Félix before his debut ended in a reckless red card, the truth is that a team assembled at such great expense should not be on a streak of seven defeats in their last 10 matches.
It will be a long road to Potter’s comeback. On the bright side, at least he can talk about some positives for Chelsea. There were some flashes of age-old defiance, such as Kalidou Koulibaly raising another rickety defensive display by smuggling in the equalizer just after half-time, and there were flashes of adventurous football.
To give Potter credit, it might have been different had Felix kept his cool rather than chipping in Kenny Tete when the match stopped at 1-1 after 58 minutes. But Chelsea lost, and the 10 men broke when Carlos Vinicius scored the winning goal in the 73rd minute. It was another soft concession, with both Thiago Silva and Kepa Arrizabalaga at fault, and Fulham could take pride in rising to sixth.
It was hard to bear the gloating of the Fulham fans, who couldn’t believe how well Marco Silva’s side had fared since winning promotion. It’s not supposed to be like this for Chelsea, though their demise revolves around whether it was right to replace Thomas Tuchel Potter. After all, it wasn’t Potter who signed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who didn’t manage to come off the bench when Chelsea were chasing a late point.
The balance is not right. Coulibaly was a poor signing, while late star Marc Cucurella confirmed why 18-year-old Lewis Hall was chosen at left-back over the £62m Spaniard.
Chelsea made strange choices. Coulibaly’s attempts to get out from behind were laughable and a horrific mistake by Trevoe Chalobah saw Bobby Courdova-Reid hit the bar. As for the opening match for Fulham in the 25th minute, it came from Hall conceding the ball to Reed in a dangerous position, and Chalobh failed to clear his lines. The ball fell to Willian, who evaded Cesar Azpilicueta and watched his sparkling shot beat Arrizabalaga thanks to a deflection off Shaluba.
Willian did not celebrate the deepening misery of his old side. Azpilicueta’s Brazilian running spectacle has stirred up memories of better times for Chelsea, although there is at least some hope for the future. Potter’s 3-5-2 system gave the visitors control of their midfield during the early stages, there was some welcome tenacity from Kai Havertz after his dismal performance during the FA Cup defeat to Manchester City and there were plenty of nice touches from Felix, who spent most His time on the field runs around and dances past defenders and creates chances.
A slender presence, Felix wasn’t overwhelmed by a physical challenge. The Portuguese striker is an expensive loan contract but he could be an inspiration. Felix was fit despite only getting one training session after his move from Atlético. His debut almost resulted in a goal for Hull and there was danger whenever he got the ball.
The only disappointment is that Felix, who came close to scoring on several occasions, will be suspended for three matches. His dismissal was the turning point. Chelsea just canceled out Willian’s goal. Hall won a free kick on the left, Mount nearly attacked Bernd Leno at his near post, and Coulibaly forced the ball over the line.
At that point the momentum was with Chelsea. Fulham, who needed Leno to deny Hall, were nervous. But nothing goes Chelsea’s way. The list of injuries grew when Denis Zakaria, who had been playing well in midfield, limped off. Felix’s mindless impulsiveness soon followed.
Up to 10 men, Chelsea tried to hold on, threatening when Havertz stretched Leno. With 17 minutes remaining, Andreas Pereira’s cross went over Silva and Vinicius punished Arrizabalaga’s poor positioning. The hardest task in football, Potter said, is becoming more and more difficult.