Graham Potter said his new-look Chelsea side lacked ‘connection’ after they were held to a 0-0 draw in their West London derby against a well-organised Fulham.
Chelsea’s incredible transfer spending spree has dominated the column inches in recent weeks, and Mykhailo Mudryk and Enzo Fernandez were handed their first starts for the club since their mega-money moves.
Despite the respective valuations of the two sides, it was Fulham who came into the game further up the Premier League table, and the Cottagers had the only shot on target in what was a lively yet sloppy first half. Kai Havertz went close for the Blues just before the interval, though the German saw his lobbed effort come back off the post.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first, with second-half substitute David Datro Fofana going closest for the hosts after rounding Bernd Leno, only for Tim Ream to clear his effort off the line.
Fulham – who beat Chelsea at Craven Cottage last month – were by far the more organised of the two sides, while Chelsea looked like they were lacking cohesion in the final third, with neither side able to find a breakthrough.
Speaking afterwards, Graham Potter was pleased with his side’s spirit and work ethic, but admitted that their issues stemmed from a lack of familiarity and chemistry.
Enzo Fernández's Premier League debut by numbers:
100% aerial duels won
10 x possession won
9 duels won
8 passes into final ⅓
6 tackles made
2 fouls won
1 chance created
He made more tackles than any other player on the pitch. 👏 pic.twitter.com/HV8XOkT9fb
— Squawka (@Squawka) February 3, 2023
“There was a lot of excitement and positivity from the start, a good atmosphere,” he told BBC Sport. “The spirit of the players was really good. They worked hard for each other against an organised team.
“They’ve been together a while. We’re a different stage of that – players coming back from injury and new players. We needed time to settle everything down. We were missing the connection, fluidity and confidence that comes from knowing each other.
“The decision we took in the window you can see the profile in terms of age. We feel we have a very strong group of players. We have to gel and become a really good team. That’s where the work is.
“It’s working together. When players have been injured they have not been on the training pitch. We have new players with us. It’s about getting ideas across and working with the group.
“Sometimes you have to look at the whole package. Young players, nice mix of them both. For us it’s about improving.
“New players are adapting to a new country and a new league. It’s not straightforward. When the price tag is what it is, questions will be asked, it’s the nature of the business.”
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