Enzo Fernandez impresses as Chelsea secure point vs Fulham
$360 million later, and mid-table Chelsea were able to secure a point in a 0-0 draw with European hopefuls Fulham at Stamford Bridge on Friday.
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Chelsea’s spending spree saw them sign eight new players to swell Graham Potter’s first-team squad to 30 players, including Enzo Fernandez, who arrived in west London as the most expensive signing in British football history ($129 million) on Tuesday.
The Argentine midfield wasted no time and looked a cut above everyone else on the field as he made his Premier League debut with precious little time to train with his new club.
The result sends Fulham (32 points) up to 6th in the PL table, now one point ahead of Brighton, though the Seagulls have played three fewer games now. Chelsea (30 points), meanwhile, climb past fellow strugglers Liverpool, into 9th.
Chelsea went inches from opening the scoring in the 45th minute, when Kai Havertz lifted the ball over the out-rushing Bernd Leno. As a pair of Fulham defenders made late recovery runs into the box, the ball struck the front of the near post and and bounced back into play to be cleared away.
Aleksandar Mitrovic was next to nearly break the deadlock in the 71st minute, when he went for goal just one or two steps inside the halfway line. Perhaps the ball was headed for the crossbar or just over, but it was close enough that Kepa Arrizabalaga had to quickly backpedal and palm the ball away from his goal line.
Not even a minute later, Fernandez nearly marked his Chelsea debut with a sensational goal from nearly 30 yards out. The ball fell to Fernandez and the 22-year-old World Cup winner uncorked a shot that narrowly tailed away away from the far post.
The oh-so-nearly-goals theme continued as the second half wore on, and it was Tim Ream who saved the day for the Cottagers in the 79th minute. Noni Madueke also made his Chelsea debut as he replaced another January signing, Mykhailo Mudryk, at halftime. Madueke’s first real involvement came as he rounded Leno outside the penalty area and scooted past with an eye toward goal, only for Ream be in the right place at the right time to boot the ball clear as the last line of defense.
How to watch Chelsea vs Fulham live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 3pm ET, FridayTV Channel: USA NetworkOnline: Stream via NBCSports.com
Key storylines & star players
Watch out for Chelsea, because the crew is getting healthier. To be fair, it’s difficult to have more injuries than Chelsea has had this year, but we digress. Ben Chilwell, Reece James, Raheem Sterling, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are all ready to go, though Graham Potter said none of them are ready for 90 minutes. Wesley Fofana is close to a return, but should miss out, while Joao Felix could make his return. So, yeah, we could see Felix, Mykhailo Mudryk, and Raheem Sterling on the pitch at the same time. Zoom, zoom, Fulham.
Marco Silva’s Cottagers have cooled off, at least in terms of results, since beating Chelsea at Craven Cottage on Jan. 12, the game in which Felix earned his red card. 1-0 losses to Newcastle and Spurs, forgivable, were followed up with a FA Cup draw with Sunderland. If Fulham can get through this, there’s a more forgiving run of fixtures ahead with a Sunderland replay, Forest, Brighton, Wolves, and Brentford. But is anything forgiving any more in the Premier League? Aleksandar Mitrovic, as usual, looms as a key piece of Fulham’s hopes.
Chelsea team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: N’Golo Kante (hamstring), Christian Pulisic (knee), Wesley Fofana (knee), Edouard Mendy (shoulder), Armando Broja (knee), Denis Zakaria (thigh)
Fulham team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: Neeskens Kebano (achilles)