Chelsea 0-0 Fulham: Talking points as Cottagers return undefeated from Stamford Bridge


Chelsea and Fulham shared the spoils at Stamford Bridge on Friday evening in a highly demanding contest, in which neither side managed to find the back of the opposition net despite a number of chances at both ends of the pitch.

English game going back in time

Referees in the Premier League have been allowing a much more physical approach to the game this season compared to a number of previous ones, taking in back practically to the 1970s and 80s, or a certain TV commentator called it, “putting the ‘English’ back into the English game”. Most pundits and a part of the wider public welcome such an approach, not liking the game being frequently stopped for every minor foul. However, this match showed clearly how flawed such an approach can be, with the players likely to end up paying the price.

Arguably the most obvious moment in that aspect came in the first half, when former Chelsea winger Willian tried to keep the ball in his own half and took several hits from behind from Conor Gallagher. Seeing his teammate potentially in trouble with referee Stuart Atwell refusing to blow his whistle, and Gallagher aiming for a more serious scissor-like tackle, Aleksandar Mitrovic ran back full-steam and tackled Gallagher instead. Gallagher’s leg was in danger of breaking in several places under Mitrovic’s powerful frame and the Chelsea midfielder was very lucky it didn’t happen. Atwell still remained silent, not showing bias but showing a complete lack of care for the welfare of the players involved.

Embed from Getty Images

There were other examples as well, proving the belief that letting players get away with “minor” fouls means a more fluid game completely wrong. One foul, if not given, can sometimes not only encourage the offender to commit more and worse, but it can also breed retaliation from the other team, raising the level of recklessness until studs start going into shins and ankles, risking serious injury. And it can all be prevented by the referee simply following the rules and giving fouls as fouls.

A long way to go for Chelsea

Under their new ownership, Chelsea spent over £600 million on new players during the last summer and this January combined. Last month, extremely large sums of money were spent on the likes of Mykaylo Mudryk and Enzo Fernandez, coupled with reinforcements elsewhere in the forms of centre-back Benoit Badiashile and forward David Datro Fofana, and Joao Felix arrived on loan from Atletico Madrid.

Embed from Getty Images

It seems the club are determined to finish inside the top four and qualify for next season’s Champions League, a task which doesn’t look easy at the moment. After this match, the Blues are in ninth place with 30 points, 10 less than Newcastle in fourth, and with other very good teams keeping an eye on the situation too. 

Naturally, these new players, though clearly talented, will need time to adjust to the new surroundings. If the club expected them to just walk in and start playing their best football, it was very naive. Following his bright cameo against Liverpool, Mudryk was nowhere near that level against Fulham, while Fernandez, still fresh in the memories of the football public as a World Cup winner, looked slightly above average after his €120m transfer. Of all the newcomers, Badiashile is probably the one who looks comfortable alongside Thiago Silva in that back line. Clever at reading the game, strong and good in the air, difficult to dribble past and get away from, the former AS Monaco centre-back is certainly within his depth in the Premier League.

Pressure on Potter?

Much has been said in the press about Chelsea boss Graham Potter potentially losing his job due to the poor season Chelsea have been enduring. On the other hand, the club maintain the stance that the former Brighton manager will be given the time required to adjust to the new level of expectation and build a team capable of competing for the greatest heights on every front.

Embed from Getty Images

It is, however, something every club would be saying in public in such a situation, regardless of what is really going on in their minds. A manager not feeling the support from the board wouldn’t benefit anyone, and yet, those words certainly don’t mean they’re not contemplating alternatives. There are, after all, several high-profile managers available on the market right now, and it’s hard to believe Todd Boehly and Co. aren’t even thinking about the likes of Zinedine Zidane and Mauricio Pochettino.

Time will tell, unless Potter starts delivering success, in which case it all becomes irrelevant.

Flying Fulham

Things could not be more different for Fulham boss Marco Silva. The Cottagers have only just returned to the Premier League and after their previous outings in the English top flight ended unceremoniously after a season, they’re on the verge of getting the number of points likely to guarantee safety already, after just over half the league matches played. Not only that; they’re actually within sights of Europe.

It’s fair to say, Silva, unlike Potter, probably isn’t feeling any pressure at all. His players, also under little to no pressure, are performing very well and deserve to be where they are, and they’re probably not thinking about May and the end of the season too much. For the moment, it’s all about staying disciplined, but also enjoying their football.

Embed from Getty Images

#Chelsea #Fulham #Talking #points #Cottagers #return #undefeated #Stamford #Bridge


Related Posts

BBC pundit spots Klopp touchline behaviour that will worry Liverpool fans

[ad_1] Liverpool were on the wrong side of another hammering on Saturday as the Reds were defeated 3-0 by Wolves and a pundit spotted a worrying sign…

Cook hopeful of CPFC Wan-Bissaka and Gallagher summer interest

[ad_1] 3 minute read 4/2/2023 | 07:48pm HLTCO presenter Dan Cook believes that Crystal Palace will hope to sign Conor Gallagher and Aaron Wan-Bissaka this summer. What’s…

Sean Dyche reveals simple plan that helped Everton beat Arsenal

[ad_1] Sean Dyche has opened up on the back-to-basics tactics he adopted to help Everton seal a vital win over Arsenal in his first game in charge….

Former Panthers Interim Steve Wilks Interviewing For 49ers Role

[ad_1] After the departure of DeMeco Ryans to the Houston Texans, the San Francisco 49ers are in the market for a new defensive coordinator, and former Carolina…

“He could walk”- Football pundit gives bleak take on Jurgen Klopp’s future

[ad_1] Liverpool were hammered 3-0 once again on Saturday and this time it was at the hands of Wolves. After the clash, pundit Jan Aage Fjortoft stated that…

Smith Rowe defended amid injury setback

[ad_1] While it’s been a brilliant season for the Gunners so far, who currently lead the Premier League despite their loss this weekend, it’s been a frustrating…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *