Graham Potter warned there will be "awkward conversations" ahead at Chelsea after the signing of Enzo Fernandez capped a staggering spending spree.

The head coach can register just three of the seven new recruits for his Champions League squad, ahead of the last-16 tie against Borussia Dortmund, while even in the Premier League it will be difficult to keep players happy.

Chelsea have stars coming back from injury, to add to the sudden influx of fresh blood, and the onus is on Potter to shape a team that can win consistently after a stuttering start to his Blues career.

Owner Todd Boehly brought in Fernandez from Benfica on deadline day, with the World Cup winner joining the long list of arrivals at Stamford Bridge, after Chelsea also acquired Mykhaylo Mudryk, Benoit Badiashile, Andrey Santos, David Datro Fofana, Joao Felix and Noni Madueke.

Potter described Argentine midfielder Fernandez as "a fantastic player" and "an impressive young man", adding: "I'm excited by the second part of the season we have here, happy the transfer window's closed, and we can move forward and work with the players."

Chelsea had to inform UEFA by the end of Thursday about their squad choices for the Champions League knockout stage, and Potter said some players would inevitably be disappointed to miss out.

Loanee Joao Felix, fresh from arriving from Atletico Madrid, was described by Potter as being "in contention", but the coach would not commit any further on his choices.

"Of course, there's going to be a few awkward questions, that's the reality of where we are," Potter said. "A few awkward conversations because only 11 can play and only a certain amount can be in squads, so there's always going to be ones that are disappointed.

"It's about being as honest and open and transparent as you can and create an environment where you respect that people want to play, and respect the fact that players want to compete and help the team, but they have to be patient and make sure they're ready to play and perform and help us win."

Potter's Chelsea sit 10th in the Premier League, already 10 points behind fourth-placed Manchester United with 18 games left to play.

Their hopes of a top-four Premier League finish look bleak, but Potter will be expected to send Chelsea shooting up the table now he has ample resources.

"Everybody that's been in this room in the last four months, the word we've always spoken about is pressure, so that's not going to change," Potter said, speaking at Chelsea's press conference ahead of Friday's game against Fulham.

"Clearly, if you spend money, the external noise goes up. I understand that. Spending money is one thing, but you need to be able to align them, make the right decisions and provide a culture, a team, an environment.

"It's not the amount you spend on its own that gets success, it's more than that.

"Challenge is the right word, but I'm certainly not complaining about it. It's exciting. It's a test for me and the staff, but it's an exciting one.

"We've got a lot of really good players and we have to create an environment where there's healthy competition and they can push each other and understand there'll be frustration at times."

Potter says Chelsea have "tried to build something for the now and for the future", and he said he was "calm, calm" on deadline day as club officials negotiated to complete the Fernandez deal.

"I'm very, very pleased because we've got a fantastic player, and I'm looking forward to working with him," Potter said. "I spoke to him. My Spanish isn't great and his English isn't great, so we needed a translator, but we'll get there."

Hakim Ziyech's move to Paris Saint-Germain collapsed late on Tuesday, meaning he will stay with Chelsea, and Potter said the former Ajax winger would be "an important player for the rest of the season".

Europe's elite clubs raced to beat the January transfer deadline as Pedro Porro signed for Tottenham and Enzo Fernandez neared a record Premier League move when the window slammed shut.

Argentina's World Cup winner Fernandez appeared set to complete a long-awaited move to Chelsea in a record-breaking Premier League transfer.

While Chelsea aimed to bring in the youthful Fernandez, veteran Italy international Jorginho departed as he joined Arsenal after Mikel Arteta's side were unable to secure Brighton and Hove Albion's Moises Caicedo.

Manchester United also looked to strengthen their midfield with a loan deal for Bayern Munich's Sabitzer after an injury to key playmaker Christian Eriksen at Old Trafford.

Meanwhile, Tottenham solidified their defensive options by snaffling Spanish wing-back Porro from Sporting CP after lengthy negotiations.

Stats Perform provides a rundown of the notable deals as the mid-season transfer window finally closed.

 

BOEHLY BREAKS RECORD FOR FERNANDEZ

Fernandez emerged as a target for Chelsea following his influential displays for Argentina during their World Cup triumph in Qatar and the Blues' Todd Boehly-led consortium appear to have finally got their man. 

After already snatching Mykhaylo Mudryk from under the noses of Arsenal, Chelsea are set to splash a reported £105.5million (€120m) on Fernandez from Benfica.

That would break the Premier League record of £100m Manchester City paid Aston Villa for Jack Grealish, as the Blues looked to secure the former River Plate midfielder on a reported seven-and-a-half-year contract.

ARSENAL'S CAICEDO BLUES CURED BY JORGINHO

Arteta and Arsenal's pursuit of Caicedo fell on deaf ears as Brighton refused to budge, despite the Gunners lodging a reported £70m bid for the 21-year-old.

After missing out on primary midfield target Caicedo, Jorginho switched the blue shirt of Chelsea for the red of Arsenal as he completed a reported £12m transfer to the Premier League leaders.

The 31-year-old will provide able competition for the impressive Thomas Partey after penning an 18-month contract at Emirates Stadium.

TEN HAG FINDS ERIKSEN COVER IN SABITZER

With Eriksen ruled out for three months, Erik ten Hag and United acted swiftly to attempt to bring in experienced midfielder Sabitzer on a short-term loan.

Opportunities had been hard to come by for the Austria international after joining Bayern from Bundesliga rivals RB Leipzig ahead of the 2021-22 season.

He started just 15 times in his 40 appearances for the Bundesliga champions, though he may now have the chance to impress in the Premier League with Ten Hag's resurgent Red Devils.

CONTE GETS PORRO AS DOHERTY AND SPENCE DEPART

It appeared Tottenham may not secure the services of attack-minded wing-back Porro, formerly of Girona and Manchester City, after it seemed negotiations had come to a halt with Sporting.

But Spurs confirmed the 23-year-old's arrival late on, with Porro signing a five-and-a-half-year deal after a reported £40m (€45m) move from Sporting, who signed Barcelona's Hector Bellerin as a replacement.

That transfer saw Djed Spence, who only signed from Middlesbrough in a deal worth up to £20m in July, sent out to Ligue 1's Rennes for the rest of the season on loan.

Fellow full-back Matt Doherty also made way as he joined Atletico Madrid on a six-month contract, with Spurs terminating the 31-year-old's contract to "enable him to join another club".

OTHER DEALS

Bournemouth paid their second-highest transfer fee in history for Illya Zabarnyi, parting with a reported £24m (€27.2m) for the Ukraine centre-back from Dynamo Kyiv.

Gary O'Neil's Bournemouth added a second signing soon after, confirming the arrival of Sassuolo midfielder Hamed Traore on a loan that will become permanent on a five-year deal in June.

Nottingham Forest continued their spending after signing Atletico centre-back Felipe on a deal that will run until 2024, while Jonjo Shelvey also arrived from Newcastle United on a deal until 2025, and a move for Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Keylor Navas on loan was reportedly nearing.

Patrick Vieira's Crystal Palace bolstered their midfield by bringing in Naouirou Ahamada for a reported £10.5m (€12m) fee from Stuttgart, while Arsenal's Albert Sambi Lokonga joined on a six-month loan.

Leeds United's Diego Llorente joined Jose Mourinho's Roma on loan until the end of the season, with an option for a permanent transfer reportedly worth €18m (£15.9m).

Ayoze Perez is another Premier League player who will spend the second half of the term on loan, with the Leicester City forward moving to LaLiga side Real Betis.

Aleksandar Mitrovic's Serbia team-mate Sasa Lukic traded Torino for Fulham in a transfer reportedly worth £8.8m (€10m) including add-ons, signing a contract until June 2027.

Lukic will likely be joined by Arsenal full-back Cedric Soares after Marco Silva's side reportedly agreed to bring the former Southampton defender on a six-month loan.

Outside of England, Borussia Dortmund and Belgium midfielder Thorgan Hazard completed a short-term loan move to Eredivisie title hopefuls PSV.

Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte is desperate to help Harry Kane win a trophy with the club because he believes success will give his records more validity.

Kane scored Spurs' winning goal in Monday's 1-0 victory at Fulham, with his strike seeing him equal Jimmy Greaves' goals record for the club.

The England striker now has 266 for Spurs, with just one more enough to write his name in the club's history books.

But, Kane, 29, is yet to win a trophy with Tottenham, who last enjoyed success in the EFL Cup 15 years ago.

The atmosphere around Spurs has been poor lately following chastening defeats to Manchester City and rivals Arsenal, but Conte is trying to focus on the positives.

"For sure, I would like to help him and me, also his team-mates, to try to do something important, to win something with Tottenham because he loves Tottenham," Conte told reporters.

"Tottenham is in his heart and it should be good if together we were able to win something, because then it is important to have this record, but I think it could be more important if you win a trophy."

Conte also revealed Kane's match-winning display came despite him not being 100 per cent.

"Today he was amazing," Conte added. "I think he scored a fantastic goal, the execution, to control the ball, then to kick it in that way, only a world-class striker can score this goal.

"About the spirit that I spoke before, I want to underline Harry played with a fever and he was not so good [in terms of condition], but he wanted to play because he understood the moment.

"He understood he is a point of reference for us, for me, for the other players and, with Hugo [Lloris], they are the two players who are a point of reference for the dressing room. Today I am really happy because I think he was rewarded with a goal."

Conte's hope of winning a trophy with Kane remains a fair way off, however.

While they are into the last 16 of the Champions League, success in Europe would be a massive shock.

Domestically they are 14 points adrift of Premier League leaders Arsenal, whom they have also played two games more than, and they were knocked out of the EFL Cup in November.

The FA Cup – which pits them against Preston North End on Saturday – represents their only realistic hope of a trophy this season, and Conte is urging his players to have belief.

"I think that we have to be dreamers," he said. "I spoke to the players and said today has to be a starting point for us.

"Often in the defeats you can learn more than in a win. After the games against City and especially Arsenal, it was important to make good reflections with my players and know that we lost something from last season, not offensively but we lost something defensively.

"When I pick defensively, I want to involve the whole team, so for this reason I spoke to all the players to show me the resilience, the desire to defend the result. I have intelligent players, smart players and good men and I think today that they gave me a good answer. It has to be a starting point.

"On Saturday we want to go to the next round [of the FA Cup]. To go away to a Championship team is not easy, but to be a dreamer we have to know this is an important game for us.

"The FA Cup can be important for us, and the Champions League and 17 games to go in the Premier League. If I see this unity, we have time to have another good season."

Harry Kane wants to repay Antonio Conte with victories after a pivotal team meeting with the Tottenham head coach before the striker's record-equalling goal downed Fulham.

The England captain moved level with Jimmy Greaves' all-time scoring record of 266 goals for Spurs after his pinpoint first-half finish proved the difference in a 1-0 win at Craven Cottage.

While a deadly finish will go down in the record books for Kane, victory moved Conte's side within three points of the Premier League's top four, albeit having played a game more.

After a 2-0 defeat to Arsenal and a 4-2 loss at Manchester City, Kane revealed Spurs players held discussions with Conte and those conversations paid off in London on Monday.

The Tottenham talisman told Sky Sports: "[Conte]'s been through a difficult time outside of football with his personal life. Being part of a team isn't just the players, it's the manager, the staff and being there for each other.

"We want to win every game for him. He puts so much passion into every training session. And we want to repay him with victories.

"We had a good meeting amongst ourselves with the manager in the week just to talk and get back. We are going to keep fighting, like the manager.

"He is a passionate manager and we just have to keep working hard for him."

Spurs were largely up against it in the first half against Fulham, who missed the chance to leapfrog Tottenham into fifth, as Hugo Lloris denied Bobby De Cordova-Reid, Willian and Harrison Reed.

However, Kane's killer instinct was enough to secure all three points and he hailed his side for returning to the basics that saw them qualify for the Champions League last season.

"We dug deep, it was a tough week but this is a good 1-0 win," he added.

"It's been difficult, whenever you give away a two-goal lead at half-time [against City] it's always harder to take. We wanted to get back to basics, clean sheets are really important for us if we're going to stay in the Champions League spots.

"We had to be compact, suffer together at times and we knew we'd get chances. We went back to what got us into the Champions League last year. It was a good sign."

Antonio Conte called on Tottenham to use their victory over Fulham as a "starting point to give everything" in their bid for Champions League qualification.

Harry Kane matched Jimmy Greaves' all-time scoring record for Spurs as Conte's side responded to back-to-back defeats against Arsenal and Manchester City with a 1-0 win at Fulham on Monday.

The manner of the losses to the two Premier League title challengers had caused concerns after a timid 2-0 defeat to the Gunners and 4-2 reverse at City in which Spurs surrendered a two-goal lead.

Head coach Conte says his side must take victory over Fulham, which moved Spurs within three points of the top four, as a benchmark for starting to correct underwhelming form after the World Cup break.

He told Sky Sports: "I got a good answer from my players. We needed a game of solidity like last season. They had the desire to fight and to be serious.

"We showed, when we play as a team, it's very difficult to play against us. I have been happy with the performances, but we had two losses against Arsenal and City.

"Today has to be a starting point to give everything. We have 17 games left; we have to see what happens.

"We have to try to stay in the race for the Champions League, to try in the FA Cup and do the same in the Premier League. It was important to speak and explain the situation compared to last season.

"We are continuing to score, but conceding 21 goals in only 10 games wasn't positive. For this reason, I had a good answer and response from my players."

The omens may be good for Spurs, given they have exactly the same number of wins (11), draws (three), defeats (seven) and points (36) as they did after 21 Premier League games last term when they finished fourth.

Reports persist around the supposedly fractured relationship between Conte and Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy, but the Italian insisted he is "proud" to coach the club as he aims for another top-four finish.

"I am really proud to be Tottenham manager. I had the possibility of being the manager of an important club, it makes me proud and this has to be clear to everybody," Conte added.

"For this reason, I want to fight until the end with my players. In the last period, we were sleeping maybe because we were losing some characteristics from last season.

"I spoke with my players, and I have good players but especially good men. They understand we have to fight until the end for important positions, we have to be ready to suffer.

"When I accepted to become Tottenham manager, I was happy, and I am happy. In every moment and every second of my day, my first thought is for my players and club to improve, to make our fans proud of the team.

"The Premier League is not simple, it is difficult and there are many clubs ready to spend a lot of money on their team.

"We are in the right direction, then we will see. The most important thing for me is to work with my players and to have a good relationship with the club."

Harry Kane equalled Jimmy Greaves' all-time Tottenham scoring record as Spurs boosted their Premier League top-four hopes with a 1-0 win at Fulham on Monday.

The England captain's pinpoint finish on the stroke of half-time proved the difference as he matched Greaves' 266-goal benchmark for Spurs, who claimed a vital victory at Craven Cottage.

Fulham had controlled proceedings before Kane's memorable strike but failed to respond in the second half as Marco Silva's side missed the chance to leapfrog Tottenham into fifth.

Victory followed back-to-back defeats for Antonio Conte's side and moved Spurs to within three points of fourth-placed Manchester United, albeit having played a game more.

Hugo Lloris kept a dominant Fulham at bay during a one-sided opening, repelling Bobby De Cordova-Reid's drive before thwarting Harrison Reed's low effort from Andreas Pereira's right-wing cross.

Kane fired well over with a rare chance that characterised Spurs' tepid start, although Emerson Royal went close with an attempt Bernd Leno parried wide soon after.

Joao Palhinha squandered a golden headed chance from Pereira's pinpoint free-kick, and Kane punished that miss as he turned outside the area before curling into the bottom-right corner for a landmark goal.

Talisman Kane almost netted a record-breaking goal after the break but saw his close-range header expertly tipped over by sharp Leno reflexes as Fulham failed to threaten a comeback.

What does it mean? Crucial win sees Spurs continue Fulham dominance

After losing back-to-back games against Premier League title challengers Arsenal and Manchester City, the pressure was on Conte and Tottenham to deliver at rivals Fulham.

Spurs duly responded with their seventh straight Premier League win at Fulham, matching their joint-longest run of top-flight away wins against one club (also Aston Villa, twice).

Conte's side host City in their next Premier League match in what will prove a chance to avenge their 4-2 defeat at the Etihad Stadium and further boost their Champions League push.

Captain Kane strikes again

Kane had already scored the most goals in Premier League history in London derbies before taking his tally in such games to 48 with his deadly first-half strike.

The England star has netted in five of his six league appearances against Fulham and is now just one goal away from writing his name in Tottenham history by surpassing the late Greaves.

Missing Mitrovic

Like Kane, Aleksandar Mitrovic had enjoyed clashes against fellow London teams in the Premier League this season, scoring in all four of his derby appearances.

But the Serbia striker was largely a passenger for Fulham in this contest and failed to find the target with presentable headed opportunities in either half.

What's next?

Spurs visit Preston North End in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday, when Fulham host Sunderland in the same competition.

Antonio Conte believes Tottenham have collectively forgotten how to "suffer" and grind out results after their capitulation against Manchester City.

Spurs blew a two-goal lead at the interval to slide to defeat against the Premier League champions on Thursday, going down to a 4-2 loss at the Etihad Stadium.

The result keeps the north London outfit well adrift of the top four, with a five-point gap between them and fourth-placed Newcastle United, with the Magpies also possessing a game in hand.

For Conte, whose long-term future at Tottenham remains a cloudy prospect, the manager thinks his side have lost their readiness to battle through the difficult moments this season, and he challenged them to show a "nasty" streak.

The Spurs spirit will next be put to the test at Fulham on Monday evening, with the Cottagers just two points adrift of Tottenham.

"I think that maybe we have to improve the spirit, the collaboration, the will and the desire to suffer," Conte said. "Maybe we have forgotten to suffer and to understand that.

"If we want to win the game, sometimes you have to stay there to suffer and defend the result, [with] the will and desire to not concede a goal."

Defeat to City marked a third loss in five Premier League games since Tottenham returned to domestic action following the mid-season World Cup break.

A draw with Brentford and a victory over Crystal Palace have been their other results, along with an unconvincing FA Cup win over third-tier Portsmouth.

Conte remains insistent he is seeing improvement from his side up to a point, saying: "I think that we are making progress in my opinion, in my mind, in some aspects.

"[But] in other aspects, I think that we have to come back like last season and be a bit more solid, a bit more focused, a bit more nasty.

"I think that we have to try to find the same solidity as last season and to learn again to suffer at the moment that we have to suffer. I think that we are [headed] in the right direction from my experience."

Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe claimed his side were given the spur they needed to beat Fulham by Aleksandar Mitrovic's calamitous double-touch penalty.

Alexander Isak came off the bench to head an 89th-minute winner, with a 1-0 victory sending the Magpies third in the Premier League, after former Newcastle striker Mitrovic failed to capitalise from the spot.

In bizarre scenes, the Serbia international slipped as he took his attempt, illegally hitting the ball twice as he sent his effort into the net, with the goal disallowed and Newcastle given a free-kick as a result.

"The double touch I couldn't see, but I was really pleased to see it go that way," Howe said.

His high-flying team were lifted, and Howe said: "These moments can sometimes do that. Something happens, a flash point, we didn't concede. The crowd were really good for us from that moment on."

Fulham were awarded their penalty in the 66th minute after a challenge by Kieran Trippier on Bobby De Cordova-Reid, with Fulham already demanding a spot-kick after Andreas Pereira was, to their mind, fouled moments earlier.

"I thought the first challenge could have been a penalty. That wasn't given. The second one I didn't think was but was bizarrely given," Howe told Sky Sports.

Newcastle's victory puts them third in the Premier League, level on points with fourth-placed Manchester United who have a game in hand against Crystal Palace to play in midweek.

Fulham head coach Marco Silva felt the match officials gave his team very little "from the first minute" of the game at St James' Park.

"So many things to say about the ref's performance. But first I will say that I am really proud of the players and my team," Silva told Sky Sports.

"We had ambition, quality, desire and showed why we are doing so well this season."

Pointing to the first incident for which Fulham wanted a penalty, as Dan Burn seemed to impede Pereira, Silva said: "It is a clear penalty, red card for the player and the game would be completely different. The fourth official gave it, but the referee made his decision."

Silva added: "Credit to Newcastle, they are a really strong side as well. We missed a penalty, and we should have attacked more. Credit to them for not giving us more chances.

"We knew that we could not press for the full 90 minutes. We were very unlucky this afternoon. Very unlucky the way we lost this game. It went against us."

Eddie Howe will support a "remorseful" Joelinton after a drink-driving charge, but the Newcastle United boss has not yet decided whether to drop the midfielder this weekend.

Joelinton starred in Newcastle's 2-0 EFL Cup quarter-final win against Leicester City on Tuesday, scoring one goal and creating the other for Dan Burn.

However, the Brazilian was arrested in the early hours of Thursday morning for being over the prescribed limit for alcohol at the wheel of a vehicle.

Joelinton will appear in court on January 26, between the two legs of Newcastle's cup tie against Southampton – the Magpies' first major semi-final since 2005.

The incident has marred what had been a great week for Newcastle, with a huge Premier League clash with Fulham to come on Sunday.

Newcastle enter the weekend in third place, with Fulham in sixth, but head coach Howe told reporters on Friday he had yet to decide what Joelinton's role would be in the match.

No player has made more appearances (47) or starts (45) or played more minutes (3,845) for Newcastle in all competitions since Howe's November 2021 appointment.

Howe added: "It came very much as a shock. Joe was very upset and remorseful yesterday.

"He knows the seriousness of the situation, and so do we as a club. I think he understands his responsibilities, and we are now supporting him.

"We will deal with the matter internally. From day one, he's been a very good professional and hugely passionate about his career and the club.

"I was very surprised about what happened. We will back him and support him but also educate him about what happened. Everyone makes mistakes."

Joelinton has turned his career around under Howe, with only three players topping his nine goal involvements in the coach's tenure.

He has played a key role in Newcastle's 13-match unbeaten Premier League streak; a 14th game without defeat against Fulham would tie the club's record run in the competition.

With or without Joelinton, Fulham represent a tough test, despite losing the reverse fixture 4-1 at Craven Cottage – a rare match in which Newcastle's number seven was left on the bench.

Marco Silva's side could even close to within a point of Champions League-chasing Newcastle with a win, but the Fulham boss said of a top-four challenge: "We are in a great position in the table, but we are not going to change anything from our goals until we achieve that.

"It is clear for me the goal is still at the same level. No one in our football club will achieve the goals until we achieve it. Until we remain in the Premier League, we are not changing anything from our aims and our ambitions.

"We are an ambitious football club, definitely, and I'm ambitious as a manager; my players, too. But we have to be realistic. We are really pleased how we have been playing, how we have achieved great results for us, but the Premier League is really tough."

After a week's break for the FA Cup, the Premier League is back with a full round of fixtures this weekend – in fact, some teams have midweek games too.

As such, fantasy football managers turn their attention back to team selections, transfers and captain choices.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform has picked out four options that might be worth your consideration…

Dean Henderson (Nottingham Forest v Leicester City)

Forest endured a pretty brutal reality check upon their long-awaited return to the Premier League, but things have started looking up in the past few weeks.

Henderson has undoubtedly been a shrewd addition between the posts and his recent form reflects Forest's general improvement.

Four of his five Premier League clean sheets this term have come in his seven most recent appearances, while Forest have collectively restricted their opponents to two or fewer shots on target in four of their past five outings.

Sven Botman (Newcastle United v Fulham)

Newcastle have excelled in many areas this term, hence their position in the top four. Defensively they have been solid, and Botman has more than played his part.

Eddie Howe's men have kept a clean sheet in each of their past four league games, with Botman playing at least 87 minutes in all of them.

Only four players have contributed to more clean sheets than his seven this season, and another will see the Magpies record five successive top-flight shutouts for the first time.

Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United v Manchester City)

Granted, Fernandes is not exactly an "out there" selection, so this is more of a reminder of the value he can represent.

For starters, he is in good form having provided an assist in each of his past two league games, and for the season only Kevin De Bruyne (41) has created more chances in open play (40).

While he only has three assists, his 4.3 expected assists is the third best in the division, suggesting his team-mates have not fully made the most of his craft.

But with Marcus Rashford in such form and a big game against City – following by a midweek trip to struggling Crystal Palace – up next, Fernandes will be a leading candidate to be decisive.

Evan Ferguson (Brighton and Hove Albion v Liverpool)

From a slightly obvious pick to a real wildcard, but bear with us.

Ferguson has made a big impact at Brighton over the past few weeks. The 18-year-old has been involved in three goals across his past two games (two goals, one assist).

If he gets another goal against Liverpool at the weekend, he will be the youngest player (18 years and 87 days on Saturday) to score in three consecutive Premier League games since Michael Owen (18y, 12d).

Is it written in the stars?

Graham Potter says Joao Felix's red card was the turning point in Chelsea's 2-1 defeat to Fulham, but the under-fire Blues boss understands why the debutant was dismissed.

Chelsea had levelled Thursday's contest at Craven Cottage when Joao Felix was sent off by referee David Coote for a studs-up challenge on Kenny Tete.

Carlos Vinicius went on to head home a winner for Fulham as they beat their west London rivals for only the fourth time in 53 top-flight matches, and the first time since 2006.

Potter was left to rue a sloppy challenge from Joao Felix, who was thrust straight into the starting XI after arriving on a short-term loan deal from Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.

He is the first Chelsea player to be sent off on his Premier League debut, and the first for any club since Federico Fazio for Tottenham against Manchester City in October 2014.

"It was a forwards' tackle. There was no malice in it but I understand why it was a red," Potter told BT Sport of the Portugal international's lunge on Tete.

"It is another blow for us; the hits keep coming at the moment. [Joao Felix] was really good. You could see his quality in the game so it is doubly disappointing for us."

Willian had given Fulham the lead against his former side Chelsea, but the visitors responded through Kalidou Koulibaly's close-range finish after Mason Mount had hit the post.

Carlos Vinicius' first goal for Fulham prolongs 10th-placed Chelsea's terrible run of form, which now stands at seven defeats in 10 matches in all competitions.

"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," Potter said.

"Second-half I think we responded well and then the red card changes the game. It makes it a little more difficult for us.

"But I thought the application when we went down to 10 was really good. I'm disappointed with the [winning] goal because I think we could do better and that is what cost us."

Chelsea's return of 25 points from their first 18 Premier League matches is their fewest at this stage since the 2015-16 campaign (18 points), when going on to finish 10th.

Further questions will inevitably be asked of Potter, who only succeeded Thomas Tuchel in September, but the Englishman has called on his squad to stick together.

"We have got to keep working, there is no other solutions," he said. "You have to keep working stay together and try to get the three points."

Former Chelsea winger Willian did not celebrate his first-half opener against old suitors Chelsea, whom he won five major honours with earlier in his career.

"I had an amazing seven years at Chelsea," said Willian, who is the 26th player to score against Chelsea in the Premier League after previously playing for them.

"I have a big respect for the fans and the club. I play for Fulham now and have to do my best. It was a special night.

"We deserved the win. We know how difficult it is to play against Chelsea. They are in a difficult moment but we are a really good team. We deserved it and we have to carry on."

A fourth top-flight win in a row for Fulham – the first time they have achieved that since April 1966 (a run of five) – moves them within four points of the Champions League spots.

Debutant Joao Felix's red card proved costly as Carlos Vinicius earned Fulham a 2-1 win over west London rivals Chelsea that piles even more pressure on head coach Graham Potter.

Joao Felix was named in injury-hit Chelsea's starting line-up, a day after joining on loan from Atletico Madrid, and saw red for a lunge on Kenny Tete shortly before the hour mark.

Chelsea had fought their way back into the match at the time of that dismissal after Kalidou Koulibaly's close-range finish cancelled out former Blues winger Willian's first-half opener at Craven Cottage.

Fulham were without suspended top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic, but Carlos Vinicius headed in his first Fulham goal in the 73rd minute to land his side a rare win in this fixture and make it six defeats in eight for Chelsea.

Bernd Leno did well to keep out an early Lewis Hall strike in a bright start from Chelsea, with Joao Felix looking particularly lively in the final third.

Fulham soon grew into the game and struck the crossbar through a powerful Bobby Decordova-Reid effort, shortly after Carlos Vinicius had a penalty shout rejected.

However, Willian gave Fulham the lead when Chelsea's defence backed off and allowed the winger to fire away a shot that deflected off Trevoh Chalobah on its way through.

Leno continued to frustrate Chelsea, but he was almost caught out by a Mason Mount free-kick that struck the right-hand post and landed nicely for Koulibaly to squeeze over the line.

Chelsea lost another player to injury when Denis Zakaria hobbled off and then had Joao Felix dismissed for a studs-up challenge on Tete.

More misery was to follow for Chelsea and Potter as Andreas Pereira played in a delightful cross for Carlos Vinicius to get above Chalobah and power home a winning goal at the back post.

Joao Felix was thrown straight into the Chelsea starting XI for the Premier League clash at Fulham on Thursday.

The Portugal international sealed a loan move until the end of the season from Atletico Madrid on Wednesday and head coach Graham Potter wasted no time in handing him his first start.

Potter opted for Joao Felix in attack with Kai Havertz and Mason Mount for the match at Craven Cottage, making four changes from the team that was thrashed 4-0 by Manchester City in the FA Cup on Sunday.

The former Brighton and Hove Albion boss also brought in Thiago Silva, Cesar Azpilicueta and another loan signing in Denis Zakaria, leaving out Bashir Humphreys, Conor Gallagher, Jorginho and Hakim Ziyech.

Chelsea went into the local derby 10th in the Premier League, 10 points off the top four and three behind Fulham, albeit having played a game fewer.

Chelsea were already interested in new loan signing Joao Felix, but Graham Potter suggested the club's injury crisis "sharpened the focus" in the transfer market.

The Blues have been the big movers of the January window, signing Benoit Badiashile, David Datro Fofana and Andrey Santos on permanent deals.

Potter was also able to add Portugal forward Joao Felix on Wednesday as he agreed a temporary move until the end of the season from Atletico Madrid.

His arrival boosts a Chelsea side struggling in 10th in the Premier League, albeit Potter believes the number of injuries he is dealing with "can skew the picture a little bit".

"If we had those guys back, I think the picture changes, I really do," he said. "I don't think we're as far away as we may think from the outside."

Potter was uncertain if Joao Felix could immediately debut against Fulham on Thursday, as Chelsea wait on his registration, but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be back after missing the previous match against Manchester City.

There was less positive news on Christian Pulisic, who may miss months, while Raheem Sterling is still being evaluated. Ben Chilwell remains out, and Reece James and N'Golo Kante are only now training on their own.

"We've been aware of [the Joao Felix deal] for a while; these things don't happen quickly," Potter said. "Obviously the injuries have maybe sharpened the focus a little bit."

Joao Felix underwhelmed after a record-breaking move to Atleti, but Potter would not be drawn on his career in Spain, which is set to be extended after the ex-Benfica man signed an extension at the same time as joining Chelsea.

The Chelsea coach's only assessment was Joao Felix is "a quality player" who "can make a difference in the final third of the pitch".

That has been a problem under Potter, with Chelsea netting only 20 league goals so far this season. His Brighton and Hove Albion team similarly had a reputation for struggling in attack.

However, Joao Felix alone will not be expected to turn the team's fortunes around, as Potter added: "My thoughts are you have to fix the team; it's not just one person to solve your problems."

Perhaps further signings could help the new man impact change, with Chelsea – heavily linked with Benfica's Enzo Fernandez – not necessarily done in the transfer market.

"There's time," Potter said. "Whether we'll find the right players or not is another thing."

He added: "We're happy with what we've done so far, but we'll keep going to try to improve the team."

Marcus Rashford joined Erling Haaland in being nominated for the Premier League's Player of the Month award for November and December after a strong run of form for Manchester United.

With the 2022 World Cup necessitating a seven-week break for elite club football, performances from either side of the tournament contributed towards the nominations.

Having scored three times during England's campaign in Qatar, Rashford hit the ground running on his return to club football by claiming a goal and an assist against Nottingham Forest before netting the winner at Wolves in United's final game of 2022.

Rashford – who was named Player of the Month in September – will face fierce competition for the award from Haaland, who scored four goals in four games for rivals Manchester City either side of the World Cup break.

Casemiro joins his United team-mate Rashford on the shortlist after helping Erik ten Hag's resurgent side win three of their four games throughout November and December.

Meanwhile, leaders Arsenal have strong representation from two nominees, with captain Martin Odegaard on the shortlist after recording six goal contributions (three goals, three assists) during this period – the most of any Premier League player.

Bukayo Saka is also in contention after netting in the Gunners' crucial victories against West Ham and Brighton and Hove Albion over the festive period.

Newcastle United's Kieran Trippier, Brentford defender Ben Mee and Fulham's Joao Palhinha complete the eight-man shortlist for the prize, which will be awarded next week.

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