Graham Potter has described Joao Felix’s red card in Chelsea’s loss to Fulham as another blow to his side.
Portugal international Joao Felix joined Chelsea on loan from Atletico Madrid earlier this week, and the Blues worked at a rapid rate to have him registered in time to make his debut against Fulham.
There were positive signs during his 58 minutes on the pitch, as he played on the front foot and worried the Fulham defence.
But shortly after Chelsea had drawn level, with Kalidou Koulibaly cancelling out a goal from former Blues man Willian, Joao Felix saw red for a horror tackle on Kenny Tete.
There were no complaints about the red card from Potter, who described it as a forward’s tackle, but it will prove costly as Joao Felix will sit out games with Crystal Palace, Liverpool and Fulham again through suspension.
“It was a forwards tackle, there was no malice in it but I understand why it was a red,” Potter said. “It is another blow; the hits keep coming at the moment.
“It is one of those really tough moments for us and everything that seems to be going wrong is at the moment.
“He was really good you could see his quality in the game so it is doubly disappointing for us.”
Red card aside, Potter was delighted with Joao Felix’s debut.
“You can see his quality,” Potter said. “He is a top, top player. He took the ball, caused danger.
“On another day he could have scored and it makes it more frustrating we are going to lose him for three games.”
The defeat leaves Chelsea in 10th in the Premier League, 19 points behind leaders Arsenal and 10 adrift of the top four – meaning Champions League qualification looks unlikely.
To rub salt into the wounds, Denis Zakaria added to Chelsea’s injury list when limping out of the game.
Potter says there is nothing else to do other than pull together and battle on.
“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,” Potter said.
Reflecting on the performance at Craven Cottage, Potter, who has seen calls for his departure grow, said: “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.”