Chelsea boss Graham Potter explains why Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did not feature against Fulham

 (Action Images via Reuters)
(Action Images via Reuters)

Graham Potter has explained why he did not call upon Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang during Chelsea’s Premier League clash with Fulham.

The former Arsenal captain was once again named as a substitute for Thursday night’s west London derby at Craven Cottage, with new signing Joao Felix handed an immediate debut up front alongside Kai Havertz after completing his high-profile loan switch from Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.

Chelsea fell behind early in SW6 courtesy of a heavily deflected strike from former winger Willian, who did not celebrate against his old club, but they got back on level terms through Kalidou Koulibaly’s close-range finish before losing Denis Zakaria to injury and seeing Felix sent off and now subject to a three-match ban for a woeful high challenge on Kenny Tete.

Ex-Tottenham loanee Carlos Vinicius then popped up with a winning header 17 minutes from time to pile more pressure on the under-fire Potter, whose team have now claimed only one win in nine matches either side of the World Cup break and still sit 10th in the Premier League, a full 10 points adrift of the top four.

Potter made his full allocation of five substitutes in the second half against Fulham, first replacing the injured Zakaria with Jorginho in a like-for-like change in midfield.

Unused sub: Chelsea did not call on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang despite chasing the game at Fulham (Action Images via Reuters)
Unused sub: Chelsea did not call on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang despite chasing the game at Fulham (Action Images via Reuters)

He made four more subs in one fell swoop minutes after Vinicius’ goal, but still did not turn to striker Aubameyang despite desperately needing an equaliser.

Instead, Potter sent on Marc Cucurella, Hakim Ziyech, Conor Gallagher and Carney Chukwuemeka in place of Trevoh Chalobah, Mason Mount, Mateo Kovacic and Lewis Hall.

Despite his poor form since returning to the Premier League from Barcelona in a £12million deal over the summer, the decision to leave Aubameyang - who has scored just once in the top-flight all season - on the bench as Chelsea chased the game late on against Fulham was still greeted with surprise by fans and pundits alike.

Asked why he did not send for the Gabon skipper after another miserable night, Potter explained that it was merely tactical thinking.

“We had a back five and felt we should go to a 4-4-1 and keep Kai on because I felt he was leading the line and winning challenges and duels,” he said.

“We wanted to use Hakim and Carney to break from wide and Conor to break from the centre because you know you’re going to get driven back a bit. So that was the thinking.”