What funny beginnings. Joao Félix offered himself a roller-coaster ride for his first appearance with Chelsea. Less than forty-eight hours after his arrival in the form of a paying loan in London (note: against 11 million euros), the 23-year-old Portuguese international will indeed have been one of the big players in this late match at Fulham for the Blues. And the story of the evening ended in the worst possible way with a direct red card for a poorly controlled and difficult to understand intervention in midfield in the 57th minute. His sole on Kenny Tete’s shin could not end in anything other than an expulsion.
What went through his head? Is it the adrenaline of the last days with this loan concluded a few hours before this meeting which pushed him to this excess of commitment? The desire to do well to show his new supporters everything he could bring them in this quest for recovery desired by Graham Potter players? He may return one day to the reasons for this astonishing gesture, which forced the referee of the meeting to send him off without hesitation. But what is certain is that he ruined everything. And in large widths.
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He had been the best on the field
Everything was ruined because Chelsea at 10 against 11 then cracked again to concede their third defeat in a row, while the Blues had managed a few minutes before this red to come back to score and seemed on a good dynamic in this meeting. Also ruined it because he had been the Blues man before that. And in a good way this time. “It is such a shame. He had been excellent so far. A real threat to Chelsea“, summed up Jody Morris, the former Chelsea assistant on Sky Sports. “Felix and Chelsea can’t complain about that red but so far he had been the best on the pitch.” confirmed Jamie Carragher on Twitter.
Before this dramatic turn of the 57th at Craven Cottage, Joao Félix had indeed been amazing. Aligned from the start by Graham Potter, the winger bought for 127 million euros by Atlético Madrid in the summer of 2019 gave the impression of being in this London team for long weeks. Surely freed from the heavy shadow of a Diego Simeone who no longer wanted it in recent months with the Colchoneros, he was in all the right moves. Hard-hitting and lively, he gave depth to the Blues. Close to Kai Havertz and Mason Mount, he swapped with them. Very available, he was Chelsea’s number one threat in the Fulham defense.
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In legs and eager to show himself, Joao Félix thus set the tone from the 2nd minute with a good call on the right side before placing a small bridge on Tim Ream and crossing for Havertz, who stumbled on Bernd Leno. On his way, he then caused faults and obtained two yellows for Antonee Robinson (8th) then Andreas Pereira (13th). And in front of goal, he regularly found a way to try his luck (9th, 40th, 50th). In vain, of course. But it was he who kept the hope alive before the equalizer. It was he who led the way before… his uncontrolled defensive gesture. “Joao Felix was brilliant. I’ve seen enough of him in the 59 minutes to know it’s a good first for Chelsea“, even estimated Joe Cole, the former Blues winger on BT Sports.
Except that his red card finally pushed Chelsea a little further into the crisis. The Blues find themselves in tenth place, ten points behind the Premier League Top 4. His new coach, Graham Potter, is more threatened than ever. And it’s not Joao Félix, who will be able to help the Blues get their heads above water in the coming weeks. His direct red card is synonymous with three suspension matches. Which means that he should not play in the league again before February 11 against West Ham. Either in a month… “It was a striker’s tackle. There was no malice. It’s a hard blow. It’s coming together at the moment. You could see his quality in the game, so it’s is doubly disappointing for us,” Potter told BT Sports. Funny first.
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