Despite a 1-1 draw at West Ham United on Saturday, Chelsea coach Graham Potter said his new-look team was making progress in their expensive rebuilding program.
Potter, who has been chastised by some Chelsea fans since taking over from Champions League winner Thomas Tuchel last September, has struggled to integrate the Blues’ new signings with a slew of players returning from injury.
On Saturday, British record signing Enzo Fernandez provided the pinpoint pass for on-loan Portugal winger Joao Felix to score, giving Chelsea fans a glimpse of the club’s potential following its new American owners’ January spending spree.
Potter was pleased with Chelsea’s early dominance at the London Stadium on Saturday, after they struggled to establish themselves last week in a 0-0 draw at home to Fulham.
But he was irritated by how they allowed former Chelsea winger Emerson Palmieri to equalize, unmarked at the far post, just 10 minutes after Felix’s goal.
He believes the second half, when Chelsea created fewer chances, was a more accurate reflection of the club’s development following the January influx of players and the return of others from injury.
“So that’s the work in progress, that’s what we have to work with, but I thought it was a step forward overall from the previous game,” Potter told reporters.
Chelsea is still in ninth place ahead of the weekend’s other games and has only won once in seven league games.
When asked if Chelsea fans should expect more from their team after such a high-priced signing spree, Potter responded,
“Chelsea fans are entitled to their opinion, of course they are, and I understand that when we’re not winning, they’d be disappointed, just like we are.”
He also claimed that his team was unlucky not to be awarded a late penalty when substitute Conor Gallagher’s shot was blocked by Tomas Soucek’s hand, but referee Craig Pawson waved play on.
EPL: Potter identifies Chelsea’s error against West Ham after a 1-1 draw
“It was a good save,” Potter commented. “I had no idea Tomas could get down so quickly and save so well.”
West Ham manager David Moyes stated that he had not seen any replays of the incident or what appeared to be a West Ham winner a few minutes earlier when Soucek put the ball in the net only to be ruled offside by Declan Rice, who had headed the ball on to him.
Moyes expressed relief that the Hammers were not buried in the game’s first half after VAR ruled out two Chelsea goals for offside.
“Chelsea were significantly better in the first half,” he said. “What was important was that we didn’t fall further behind.”