Chelsea face anxious wait over Denis Zakaria blow as injury crisis deepens in Fulham derby defeat

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Chelsea face another anxious wait to discover the extent of Denis Zakaria’s injury following the Premier League encounter with Fulham.

An increasingly wretched season spiralled further out of control for the Blues at Craven Cottage on Thursday night, with a 2-1 defeat sealed by Carlos Vinicius’ header making it just one win in the last nine games either side of the World Cup break, heaping yet more pressure on under-fire manager Graham Potter with his side sitting 10th in the table and 10 points adrift of the top four.

Chelsea’s dramatic slump has coincided with an ever-worsening injury crisis, with the visitors missing nine players in total for the all-capital contest in SW6, with Edouard Mendy, Ben Chilwell, Wesley Fofana, Reece James, N’Golo Kante, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Raheem Sterling, Christian Pulisic and Armando Broja all sidelined.

Such a dire situation only deteriorated further on another miserable evening for Potter on Thursday, with Zakaria limping off early in the second half at Craven Cottage and replaced by Jorginho in yet another blow.

The Swiss international midfielder had to wait months for his Chelsea debut after joining on loan from Juventus on deadline day in the summer transfer window, but has quickly grown in influence with a sequence of impressive displays and Potter will loathe to be without another good player for any considerable period of time.

Crisis deepens: Chelsea midfielder Denis Zakaria limped out of the 2-1 defeat by Fulham (Getty Images)
Crisis deepens: Chelsea midfielder Denis Zakaria limped out of the 2-1 defeat by Fulham (Getty Images)

Asked for an update on Zakaria after another defeat, a downbeat Potter said: “The only assessment is it's at the top of the quad.

“He felt it when he cleared the ball. In terms of the extent, it's too early to say.”

Chelsea’s availability crisis got worse still against Fulham, with new loan signing Joao Felix inexplicably sent off on his debut for a woeful high challenge on Kenny Tete that deservedly earned him a straight red card from referee David Coote mere minutes after Zakaria’s withdrawal.

After an initially exciting display, the Portuguese forward will now miss the visit of Crystal Palace to Stamford Bridge on Sunday as well as the trip to Liverpool on January 21 and a second meeting with Fulham on February 3.

He would be eligible to return for another London derby against West Ham on February 11, with Chelsea then facing Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie in Germany.

“It was a forward’s tackle, there was no malice in it but I understand why it was a red,” Potter said on the dismissal of Felix. “It is another blow, the hits keep coming at the moment.

“He was really good, you could see his quality in the game so it is doubly disappointing for us.”