'We believe in him' - Chelsea rally round Cole Palmer after narrow win over Fulham

Young attacker recovers from midweek League Cup woes to score only goal of game at Stamford Bridge

Cole Palmer, right is congratulated by Chelsea teammate Raheem Sterling after scoring against Fulham. Reuters
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Cole Palmer picked himself up from his midweek League Cup nightmare to score the only goal of Chelsea's victory over Fulham on Saturday.

The 21-year-old summer signing from Manchester City missed a hat-trick of glorious chances on Tuesday as Chelsea were beaten 1-0 at second-tier Middlesbrough in the semi-final first-leg clash at Stamford Bridge.

But manager Maurico Pochettino kept faith in his young attacker who scored from the spot to earn his team all three points against their west-London rivals.

And the Argentine insisted that Palmer and 20-year-old left-back Levi Colwill, who also came in for criticism after the cup defeat in the north-east, have the full support of everyone at the club.

“We believe in him, even when he didn't score with the three big chances in Middlesbrough,” said Pochettino. “We believe in him and he has the quality to play. It is important for young guys to feel the support of the coaching staff, club and teammates.

“It is the first season they [Palmer and Levi Colwill] are playing consistently every week and this kind of up and down can happen. It is important to relay that confidence and belief.”

Raheem Sterling also gave Palmer his backing, adding that he will help his young teammate in any way he can.

“Cole is someone I know very well and someone with a lot of ability,” said Sterling. “Anything I can do to help him, I try to do. He's got his goal today.

“I know him from my Manchester City days and I used to see it all in training. He gets in great positions, he can time a pass or cut inside and shoot.”

It was the 21-year-old Palmer's ninth league goal of the season and fifth from the penalty spot and player has emerged as the most successful of Chelsea's many summer signings.

“After the [Middlesbrough] game I was disappointed, like anyone's going to be missing that many chances and costing the team the game,” Palmer said. “It happens, it is one of those games. It is what it is. I just wanted to put it behind me and be brave in front of the net.

“Thankfully I scored. Everyone knows as a player you can have those games and you've just got to put it behind you.”

Victory meant Chelsea have now won three Premier League games on the spin moving them up to eighth in the table, although Newcastle United will move back ahead if they beat Manchester City in Saturday's late game.

And Pochettino will now be hoping his team can build some momentum after what has been a tough season so far following a summer that saw a huge turnover of players at the club.

“There isn't many games in the league this month but we know we need to get points on the board because our position in the league is poor so we know we need to kick on,” he said. “We know we've got talent in the changing room so we just need to put that on the pitch.

“We create chances, everybody knows that, but some games we're just lacking that pass in the crucial moment. We can improve on that and when we get that right we'll score a lot more goals.”

Meanwhile, Fulham manager Marco Silva – whose team were beaten 2-1 at Liverpool in the other League Cup semi-final on Wednesday – was left fuming about Malo Gusto not being shown a first-half red card for a late tackle on Willian.

The Chelsea defender was only booked for the challenge by referee Anthony Taylor, even after a VAR check, despite replays suggesting is could have been more.

“In 10 of those moments, nine times it is a red card,” said Silva. “It is a clear red card for me. VAR checked and this time they didn't give.

“It was clear. I know the officials opinion. 100 per cent sure. I think Anthony Taylor, it is difficult for him. The vision from the VAR is needed. He gave a yellow card and the VAR should have overturned the decision.”

Updated: January 13, 2024, 4:36 PM