LONDON (AP) — Half a billion dollars spent on new signings and Chelsea still looks like a team badly in need of reinforcements.
A toothless Chelsea lost at home to Nottingham Forest 1-0 in the English Premier League on Saturday, a day after closing the summer transfer window by taking its record-breaking spending past the $500 million mark with the addition of Cole Palmer.
On a day when Manchester City’s Erling Haaland, Tottenham’s Son Heung-min and Brighton's Evan Ferguson all scored hat tricks in big wins, Chelsea's inefficiency up front was a stark reminder that it can't simply spend its way out of the slump that saw it finish 12th last season.
Chelsea had 20 shots but only two on target, and striker Nicolas Jackson was held scoreless for the third time in four matches after missing a big chance to equalize.
Record signing Moises Caicedo was partly at fault for the goal, giving the ball away cheaply before Anthony Elanga tapped in a cross from Taiwo Awoniyi in the 48th minute.
“We could win this game, but we made one mistake. A mistake we cannot make,” said Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino, who has overseen two losses, one draw and just one win against promoted Luton in an underwhelming start.
Palmer came on after the break but couldn't give the team a spark as Forest earned its first league win over Chelsea since 1997 — a week after blowing an early 2-0 lead at Manchester United and losing 3-2.
Going into the first international break of the season, Pochettino will be under pressure to find answers quickly. As the club showed last season — when it went through three managers — patience can quickly run out at Stamford Bridge.
CITY HELPED BY VAR
Haaland's second-half hat trick made City's 5-1 win over Fulham look routine as the defending champions extended their perfect start to the season. But it was a disputed VAR decision that turned the game in the hosts' favor just before halftime.
Nathan Ake's headed goal to make it 2-1 for City was allowed to stand after the video assistant referee ruled Manuel Akanji did not interfere with play from an offside position even though he was in goalkeeper Bernd Leno's line of sight when he jumped over the ball.
That incensed Fulham manager Marco Silva and his players, who were still protesting when the game restarted.
“It’s clear it’s a huge mistake,” Silva said. “Just people that never play football and don’t understand nothing about football can say that player does not have an influence on the goalkeeper’s decision.”
There was nothing Fulham could do about Haaland after the break, though, as the Norway striker netted his first hat trick of the season — after six of them in all competitions last season — to take his tally to six goals in four matches.
“I'm back,” said Haaland, who was in Monaco on Thursday to collect UEFA's player of the year award.
City was again without manager Pep Guardiola, who is recovering from back surgery.
“He misses us,” Haaland said. "We also miss him sometimes, too.”
SON SHINES UP FRONT
Son was given a chance to play up front as Richarlison dropped to the bench for Tottenham, and the South Korean forward showed he's more than capable of being a central striker.
After Burnley took an early lead, Son led the comeback as Tottenham cruised to a 5-2 away win to remain unbeaten in the league under new manager Ange Postecoglou.
“Sonny was outstanding," Postecoglou said. “He led our press, then he has the quality to take his chances. I’m really pleased for him.”
Cristian Romero and James Maddison also scored for Tottenham.
TRIPLE HAT TRICKS
Playing in the late kickoff, Ferguson made it a hat trick of hat tricks on the day. It was the first time since 1995 that three different players scored three goals each on the same day in the league.
The 18-year-old Ferguson did so in a 3-1 win for Brighton over visiting Newcastle, which has lost three of its opening four matches after finishing fourth last season.
The Irish striker curled home his second goal from range to add to a simple first-half finish. He completed his treble with the aid of a hefty deflection off Fabian Schar. Callum Wilson netted a late consolation goal for Newcastle.
“A hat trick is a good day,” Ferguson said.
Brentford maintained its unbeaten start after Bryan Mbeumo equalized in injury time to secure a 2-2 home draw against Bournemouth.
In the early game, Everton finally ended its Premier League goal drought in a 2-2 draw at Sheffield United. Both teams earned their first point of the season.
AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer
Mattias Karen, The Associated Press