Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino has revealed that his team were affected by an incident before their clash with Fulham. The Argentine did not shed any more details on what caused his players to get off to a sluggish start.
“The first half wasn’t the first half that we planned,” he said. “Something happened before the game that I cannot explain. I think that it affected the team a little bit.”
Cole Palmer was the match-winner, scoring the only goal of the game from the penalty spot in first half added time. Pochettino has now recorded three consecutive wins for the first time since taking charge of the Blues.
“We started the second half really good,” Pochettino added. “I think we played really good football for 30 minutes and should score another goal or one or two and kill the game. When the game is open like this and you don’t kill the game, always in the last minutes we concede a few actions, set pieces and wide free kicks and they have good potential in these situations.
“We defended well and I think it was good for us to suffer a bit at the end. I think this type of game will make us grow and to build confidence in the way we are working.”
Chelsea were lucky to finish the match with 11 men on the field after Malo Gusto escaped a red card for a studs-up challenge on Willian. Pochettino admitted that he felt the defender should have been sent for an early bath. VAR did not intervene with the on-field decision.
“It was a challenge, a difficult one for the referees and VAR. We’ve already suffered some sending offs for actions like this. I’m not going to say nothing, I accept and understand that it was maybe a red card. I don’t want to say too much because I’ve not seen all the angles. That is football though, sometimes it is for you and sometimes it isn’t.”
Fulham boss Marco Silva added: “About the decision … the mistake from the VAR in my opinion, in our opinion … you understand the conversation I had with the fourth official. It’s a clear red card in that situation. It’s difficult for Anthony Taylor to see if it’s red card or not – he decided yellow card and we have to be fair for him because in the moment, it’s really quick for him to see that it was such a dangerous tackle from Malo Gusto.
“But after that has to come the decision from the VAR to overturn the decision. So far in the Premier League, in 10 moments nine are red cards and this afternoon wasn’t – it was a mistake from the VAR. It would have had a huge impact on the game … the game is going to be completely different.”