Chelsea 0-0 Fulham: Fernandez impresses on debut as west London derby ends goalless
Chelsea could only muster a point as they played host to Fulham at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Friday night.
Home debuts were handed to both Enzo Fernandez and Mykhailo Mudryk as the Blues looked to extend their unbeaten run in the league against their west London rivals.
It was a tightly contested opening 45, with little to choose between the sides, the best chances for the hosts came for the man up top, Kai Havertz, with him hitting the post right before the break.
In the second half, the Blues tried their best to push for a winner, Enzo Fernandez, Conor Gallagher and David Datro Fofana nearly found the back of the net but failed to convert.
Chelsea continued to push, but it was not to be, the Blues need to start picking up better results if they want to move up the table and challenge for the top four spots.
There is always a special buzz ahead of a London derby, but there was an added anticipation and excitement factor for Blues fans against Fulham on Friday night.
World Cup holder and most expensive signing in Premier League history, Fernandez was introduced to the Chelsea crowd and made his home debut alongside Ukrainian winger Mudryk.
Although it took a while for the hosts to get going in this contest, a lofted Thiago Silva pass picked out Havertz who had a strike on goal denied by Leno.
The visitors responded with an attack of their, and this time it was the Chelsea goalkeeper, Kepa who was down quickly to his right to parry an Andreas Pereira effort behind for a corner.
There was an evident increase to the tempo of the match, and once again the Blues came extremely close to finding the lead, a Mason Mount delivery picked out Havertz, but the German blazed his stretching shot into the home crowd.
Just before the half-time break, the 23-year-old was inches away from breaking the deadlock, but his delicate lob clipped the post and came back out.
While the Blues came closest, the two sides remained in a deadlock as the referee blew his whistle to end the first half.
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During the break, a substitution was made, Mudryk was replaced by Noni Madueke, which saw another new signing given their debut.
Straight out of the gates, Willian fired an effort in that was comfortably dealt with by the Spaniard in the Chelsea goal.
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Moments later, there was a brief bit of concern for the visitors after Pereira flew in to make a tough challenge on Marc Cucurella, after a VAR check though the decision was made to stick with the on-field decision of a yellow card.
As the half continued, Graham Potter looked to his bench once again, Raheem Sterling and Cesar Azpilicueta entered the fray as Ziyech and James were hooked.
Things had rather fizzled out until the 70th minute, when Aleksandar Mitrovic attempted to create something out of nothing, his halfway line strike nearly caught out Kepa, but the 28-year-old calmly dealt with it.
This seemingly woke the hosts up, Fernandez nearly marked his debut in sensational fashion, his whipped effort curled just wide of the post but still managed to energize the crowd.
The pressure from the Potter’s men continued, Conor Gallagher saw a powerful hit narrowly go wide and then substitute Fofana went even closer.
A ball over the top, saw him round the keeper and he displayed great composure until the finish, Ream managed to cover the goal line and deflect the Frenchman’s effort wide.
There were hearts in mouths as the ball fell to Joao Palhinha in the Chelsea box in the 90th minute, but he could only send a strike wide of the post.
Ultimately, it was not meant to be for the Blues against the Cottagers, they had the chances but failed to convert them. The result sees Fulham progress to sixth in the table, but they would have hoped to climb more than that.
Chelsea have now scored just three goals in their last seven games in all competition. The unbeaten run extends to three games (W1, D2), but ultimately it was two points dropped in the west London derby.