Graham Potter congratulated Tomas Soucek for his “good save” after the officials waved away Chelsea’s penalty appeals for handball in the 1-1 draw with West Ham.
Conor Gallagher’s low shot struck Soucek on the hand as the West Ham midfielder slid across in an attempt to make a block in the 88th minute, but referee Craig Pawson waved away their appeals and there was no intervention from VAR.
Sky Sports’ pundit Sue Smith called it: “The most obvious penalty you will see”.
“It was a good save – you need your goalkeeper to help get you the points,” Potter said.
“It hasn’t been given so there is nothing for me to say. If it was given it wouldn’t have been overturned but it hasn’t been given.
“It looked a handball to me. I didn’t know Tomas [Soucek] could get down that quickly to make a save like that. It’s a good stop from him. It’s not for me to say about VAR. They are human beings. When there is a different human being in the room so every single decision and action means you won’t get the same one again. It’s very hard to get consistency. Some go for you, some don’t. You have to accept that.”
Potter’s new-look side had started strongly and looked like they might subject the hosts to a punishing afternoon when January signings Enzo Fernandez and Joao Felix combined for the latter’s first Chelsea goal on his return from suspension. However, Chelsea faded as the match wore on and little response when Emerson levelled the game.
“I felt today was a step forward performance-wise,” Potter said.
“We started the game well. You are always rocked by the goal as that’s football – we must learn from that. We’ve had a good training week but when you don’t get the three points there is stuff you can do better.
“You can see the potential of the team today but you can also see where the work is. That is getting Reece James up to speed, getting Ben Chilwell up to speed, getting to Ruben Loftus-Cheek up to speed, getting Wesley Fofana up to speed, getting N’Golo Kante up to speed, adapting Mykhailo Mudryk to the Premier League, adapting Noni Madueke to the Premier League, adapting Benoît Badiashile to the Premier League and adapting Joao Felix to the Premier League. That’s how I see it. I’m being honest to say how it is. But I understand if people are frustrated if you don’t win.”
Marc Cucurella was singled out by the travelling Chelsea fans for his performance. His substitution was loudly cheered by the away end after another inconsistent showing.
Potter was keen to stress the point that the Spanish full-back hasn’t become a bad player overnight and was subjected to interest from other clubs when at Brighton during the period when Potter was the Seagulls boss.
- Joao Felix went straight back into the Chelsea team, in place of Mason Mount, while Noni Madueke and Ruben Loftus-Cheek also started.
- West Ham boss David Moyes named an unchanged team from the 1-1 draw with Newcastle, with Tomas Soucek again benched.
“Supporters are entitled to opinion, they just want the team to do well,” he said.
“Marc isn’t in his best moment but at the same time he’s been part of a team that got clean sheets at Anfield and Fulham. In the summer, I know as I was the selling club, there was another club interested in him and from their points in the Premier League club that club is a good football club.
“Marc hasn’t become a bad player. Some players can go through bad times. We need to stick with him and try to help him but at the same time supporters are entitled to their opinion. I won’t be critical of that. That’s what we have to work with.”
West Ham have another London derby next weekend when they visit Tottenham on Sunday 19 February; kick-off 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports.
Chelsea face Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday 15 February – kick-off 8pm – before they host Southampton back in the Premier League on Saturday 18 February; kick-off 3pm.