Chelsea 0-0 Fulham: No dream debut for Fernandez as Blues endure derby frustration
There was no dream debut for Enzo Fernandez as Fulham held toothless Chelsea to a goalless west London derby draw on Friday.
Three days after joining the Blues for a staggering £106.8million (€121m) Premier League record fee on transfer deadline day, Fernandez made a tidy first appearance for his new club but was unable to celebrate with a win.
Big-spending Chelsea lacked a cutting edge, with Kai Havertz hitting the post in the first half of a stalemate at Stamford Bridge.
A point keeps Fulham above the Blues in the table and struck another blow to their neighbours' hopes of securing a top-four finish.
Chelsea were disjointed in the first half with a new-look side needing time to gel and Andreas Pereira almost put Fulham in front with a powerful right-footed drive that was tipped around the post by Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Tim Ream got a slight touch on Mason Mount's pass to prevent Havertz from converting at full stretch and the Germany international endured more frustration just before the break.
Hakim Ziyech, who saw a deadline-day move to Paris Saint-Germain fall through, picked Havertz out with a brilliant pass and his lob over Bernd Leno came back off the post.
Mykhaylo Mudryk was replaced by fellow new boy Noni Madueke at half-time after a disappointing first start, but Chelsea continued to lack fluency.
Fernandez was just off target with a long-range right-footed strike after an audacious attempted lob from Aleksandar Mitrovic had Kepa scrambling back to claim on his line.
Conor Gallagher fired wide and Ream cleared David Datro Fofana's shot off the line after he rounded a stranded Leno on a frustrating evening for Chelsea.
What does it mean? Blues a work in progress
For all the huge amount of money spent by Chelsea, they still appear to be lacking firepower without a recognised striker, and a well-drilled Fulham did a great job of keeping them at bay.
The Cottagers beat Chelsea 2-1 last month and occupy sixth place, three spots above Chelsea.
Graham Potter's men may have to win the Champions League in order to play in the competition next season, given they are nine points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester United and have played one game more than the Red Devils. The return from injury of Reece James and Ben Chilwell were big boosts for Chelsea, while they have now kept three consecutive three clean sheets.
Efficient start for Fernandez
This was not a spectacular debut from Fernandez, but the most expensive player in Premier League history slotted seamlessly into Chelsea side.
The World Cup-winning Argentina midfielder came out on top in nine of his 12 duels and won possession 10 times, while he was not far away from scoring the winner.
Fulham show steel
Marco Silva did a great job of setting Fulham up to thwart Chelsea and they could have taken all three points on another night.
Resolute and disciplined, they were excellent in midfield and rock solid at the back as they continue to exceed expectations this season.
Key Opta Facts
– Potter has won 20 points in his first 15 Premier League games with Chelsea, with only Glenn Hoddle (13) and Gianluca Vialli (19) accruing fewer in their first 15 in charge of the Blues.
– Fulham have picked up 32 points from their first 22 games of this Premier League season (W9 D5 L8), only winning more top-flight points at this stage of a campaign once before (39 in 1959-60, assuming three points for a win).
– Potter has faced Fulham five times without winning in the Premier League (D3 L2), only facing Chelsea more without enjoying a victory (six games).
– Potter has made 64 changes to Chelsea's starting XI in his 15 Premier League games in charge so far, the second-most in a manager's first 15 games in charge of a club in Premier League history, behind only his predecessor Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea (66).
There is another London derby for Chelsea at West Ham next Saturday, while Fulham head to Sunderland for an FA Cup fourth-round replay on Wednesday.