Fulham added to Chelsea’s woes with a 2-1 win at Craven Cottage on Thursday in a west London derby that also saw the Blues’ new loan signing, Joao Felix, get sent off in his debut.
Willian, a former Chelsea midfielder, gave Fulham the lead in the 25th minute, but Kalidou Koulibaly quickly responded with an equaliser for Chelsea.
Chelsea’s comeback was cut short shortly before the hour mark when Felix, who had been having a spectacular start after his loan move from Atletico Madrid, was issued a red card for a high tackle on Kenny Tete.
Fulham took advantage of their man advantage in the 73rd minute when substitute Carlos Vinicius, starting in place of Aleksandar Mitrovic who was suspended, capitalised on more poor defence from Chelsea to score the game-winning goal with a header.
Marco Silva’s excellent squad moved up to sixth place despite having played two more games than Liverpool thanks to the goal, which gave Fulham their fourth consecutive victory in the Premier League for the first time since 1966. They have also moved up to sixth place, six points ahead of Chelsea, who are still in last place.
And following a third consecutive loss in all competitions, leaving them with only one win in their previous nine Premier League games, pressure on Chelsea manager Graham Potter is only going to intensify.
In addition to the outcome, Potter had further suffering. Not only would he be without Felix for three games due to suspension, but he also witnessed Chelsea midfielder Denis Zakaria go injured in the second half.
“We started well, we had a really fantastic chance early but then mistakes lead to their goal, we replied brilliantly, and then the red card changes the game and makes it more difficult for us,” Potter said to BT Sport.
It was because of our poor performance in front of goal.
Because Felix’s challenge on Tete was a “forward’s tackle,” Potter saw no reason to appeal the red card.
Silva praised his resilient Fulham squad after the game.
“Pleased with the outcome, and thought the first half went well. In contrast to the first half, we struggled in the second “His words.
“The positive thing we can take as a squad is that we were able to win a football match against a top side even though they are on a bad run,” said the coach after his team’s victory.
But for Chelsea and Felix, the evening began with such promise.
Felix impressed Chelsea fans right away after completing his loan move to Stamford Bridge less than 24 hours ago.
Within two minutes, he generated an excellent scoring chance by dribbling past Tim Ream on the right and cutting inside the box to find Kai Havertz, whose low shot was blocked and then Lewis Hall missed an even better scoring opportunity off the rebound.
Felix linked up nicely with Germany’s forward Havertz and played off of him in the first half, but they were unable to score.
In the first half alone, he had three opportunities but missed the net on each occasion. The best of these chances came five minutes before halftime, when Bernd Leno in goal for Fulham made a fine reaction stop on an effort by Havertz.
Former Chelsea forward did find the back of the net, however, as Chelsea’s defence was exposed. Chelsea was down 2-0 just two minutes after avoiding a goal when Trevoh Chalobah’s wayward header created a chance for Bobby De Cordova-Reid, whose shot smacked off the crossbar.
Again, weak defending can be traced back to Chalobah, whose attempted headed clearing only served to assist a deep cross onto Willian at the back post. Fulham took the lead when a shot from the Fulham veteran Brazilian, who had been given space to cut in on his preferred right foot, hit Chalobah and went in off the far post.
Chelsea, and Potter in particular, were in dire need of a second-half comeback as they faced the prospect of a fifth loss in their previous seven Premier League games.
A stroke of luck brought them exactly what they required soon after the restart.
Mason Mount set up the goal with a deft free-kick from the left side that fooled Fulham goalkeeper Bernd Leno at the near post, hit the post, and fell to Kalidou Koulibaly, who poked it in despite Leno’s best efforts to keep it out.
As fast as Chelsea started making progress, however, things started going south again for Potter.
Felix had no recourse as referee David Coote had no choice but to show him a red card for sliding in high and studs-up against Tete’s knee moments after Zakaria went down with an injury.
There was a price to be paid fifteen minutes later for Chelsea. Both Andreas Pereira’s exquisite cross and Vinicius’ powerful back-post header merit praise, but the visitors’ defence and Kepa Arrizabalaga’s lapses in coverage warrant criticism.
After failing to respond, Chelsea will have to wait until their home match against Crystal Palace on Sunday to try to stop their slump.