Graham Potter gives honest take on ‘doubly disappointing’ Joao Felix dismissal as Chelsea pressure grows after Fulham defeat

Graham Potter looking puzzled

Graham Potter vowed to “keep working” after the latest in a long line of bad results for Chelsea saw them lose to Fulham after seeing debutant Joao Felix sent off.

Potter has been coming under increasing pressure, just a few months after replacing Thomas Tuchel as Chelsea’s head coach. The Blues have failed to win any of their first four games of 2023, a spell which has included their elimination from the FA Cup.

It was back to Premier League action on Thursday, but the stakes were high. Some reports had suggested a bad result in their match away at Fulham could be enough for Chelsea to dismiss Potter.

And a bad result did indeed follow, with Fulham claiming a 2-1 win over Potter’s side. They went in front via a goal from ex-Chelsea man Willian.

Kalidou Koulibaly equalised early in the second half, but then debutant Joao Felix was sent off for a late, studs-up challenge on Kenny Tete.

Fulham went on to punish the 10 men of Chelsea by claiming  a winner courtesy of Carlos Vinicius. It means their visitors remain 10th in the Premier League, 10 points away from the Champions League places.

Potter will need to turn things around fast if he is to reduce the pressure he finds himself under. But he saw some positive signs from their performance on this occasion, even with 10 men.

He told BT Sport: “I think we controlled the game early, won the ball back high, created some opportunities – maybe missed the last pass. We made a couple of mistakes for their goal.

“Second half, I think we responded well and then the red card changes the game. Makes it a little more difficult for us. I thought the application when we went down to 10 was really good.

“Disappointed with the goal because I think we could do better and that is what cost us.”

Graham Potter understands Joao Felix red card

As he already alluded to, Felix’s red card was a game-changing moment. After going straight into the starting lineup, the Atletico Madrid loanee did not last an hour.

Some pundits have protected Felix from too much criticism. Joe Cole, for example, has insisted that the Portugal international was “brilliant” until he saw red.

And Potter seems to be in agreement, reminding of the ability Felix showed – which only increases his frustration at not being able to call on him for three games now.

The former Brighton boss said: “It was a forward’s tackle. There was no malice in it but I understand why it was a red.

“It is another blow, the hits keep coming at the moment. He was really good, you could see his quality in the game, so it is doubly disappointing for us.”

Chelsea now need to plan for their next game, against Crystal Palace on Sunday, without Felix.

Asked how they can recover their form, Potter replied: “We have got to keep working, there is no other solutions. You have to keep working, stay together and try to get the three points.”

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