What Enzo Fernandez did after Chelsea defeat as Reece James delivers Graham Potter verdict


Chelsea suffered only their eighth defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League era as the Blues were beaten 2-0 yesterday to put more pressure on Graham Potter

Lads, it’s Tottenham

It was billed as a game Chelsea – or perhaps more accurately, Graham Potter – couldn’t afford to lose. The omens were in their favour too. The Blues hadn’t lost at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. They’d not even conceded a goal in Premier League matches at Spurs’ new home.….CONTINUE READING

Yet all that changed over the course of another insipid 90 minutes. Yes, Chelsea started well enough but they never truly threatened Tottenham’s defence. Enzo Fernandez played neat passes. Joao Felix made darting runs. Raheem Sterling attempted to find a route through. The effort was there. The genuine quality was not.

It was different in the second half. Tottenham shifted their intensity level up a gear and Chelsea had no response. Oliver Skipp’s strike within a minute of the restart was a fine one – a powerful drive from the edge of the box that beat Kepa Arrizabalaga – but it was a goal born out of poor decision-making in the Blues’ penalty area and a weak attempt to win the ball from Felix.

That was the game, unfortunately. Those who have watched Chelsea in recent months knew it even if they did not want to accept it. Their side doesn’t come back from behind. Not to win, anyway. The last occasion that happened was against Dinamo Zagreb in November in what was a dead-rubber Champions League game.

Harry Kane added Tottenham’s second with eight minutes of time remaining; that was the cue for many in the away end to begin their journey home. There were sporadic calls for Potter to depart from a few supporters but, somewhat surprisingly, that was the extent of the anger after the defeat.

Perhaps that should be of concern to the ownership. At least to some extent. Apathy is arguably the worst emotion that can be shown by fans; it is indicative of a broken connection to what is happening on and off the pitch.

“I can’t necessarily think too much 40,000 or 50,000 people; I need to focus on what I can control, which is the next day and the next training session,” Potter replied when asked if he felt it was going to be hard to win back over the fans after the defeat to Chelsea’s fiercest rivals.

“Our supporters have been very fair and have continued to support the team. So I’ve no complaints with the supporters. They are entitled to be frustrated, upset and angry with the results we’ve got and that is my responsibility. So I have no complaints with the supporters.”

Potter briefly acknowledged the travelling supporters before he disappeared down the tunnel after the full-time whistle. Chelsea’s players went further and both Wesley Fofana and Enzo Fernandez handed over their shirts to the crowd. Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount appeared to apologise for the defeat – they certainly understood the pain that losing to Tottenham had caused.

The nine problem

Chelsea’s lack a goalscorer. That’s not a new problem – it predates Potter in truth – but it is one no closer to being solved. Kai Havertz started against Tottenham and while there was his usual willingness to close down passing angles, the German didn’t register a single shot.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, meanwhile, only had one touch of the ball after his introduction in the 82nd minute, although at that point Chelsea were two goals down and the game was effectively over. David Datro Fofana wasn’t even in the matchday squad despite having started against Southampton.

“Sometimes you go through moments when you create chances and don’t score them, which we had against Dortmund and Southampton,” Potter replied when asked about Chelsea’s inability to score goals, which has resulted in the Blues finding the net once in their previous six matches in all competitions.

“Today I don’t think was a game of that. There were minimal chances for both teams in a tight game. The first goal was always going to be important and we didn’t get it. There was an element of players coming back from injury, getting them up to speed, and integrating a couple of new ones.

“So as a team, we’ve not quite there in how we want it to look and function in a good way – and scoring goals is the difficult part of the game.”

James delivers Potter stance

Chelsea have won just two of their previous 15 Premier League matches. They sit ten points off the relegation zone. And after 24 matches, the Blues have a negative goal difference. It is hardly surprising that Potter is coming under significant pressure as a result.

The 47-year-old has retained the support of the ownership despite recent results. The players haven’t turned either with Potter understood to be liked by the majority of the group, even if there are a few misgivings about his reaction to recent defeats.

That Potter has managed to retain the support of his squad was re-emphasised by Reece James, who took the captain’s armband after Thiago Silva was forced off with a first-half injury.

Speaking to beIN Sports, the academy graduate said: “We don’t wake up tomorrow and we’re out of the situation we’re in. It’s going to take weeks and months to get to where we’re meant to be. But we’re all on the same page and sticking together. That is a big positive.

“Everyone has seen how good of a manager that is, that showed when he was at Brighton and they were around the top four. His ability is definitely not questionable. He’s in a similar position to us players, we’re the ones out there performing. So as much stick as he gets, the players are the ones that are playing as well. We’re in it together.”….CONTINUE READING

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